Date of Award
Master of Arts (Research)
Applied Social Studies
Dr. Áine de Róiste
Rationale behind research: Survivors of suicide/ suicide bereaved face unique challenges in their grief, resulting in a greater risk of conditions such as complicated grief, PTSD and suicidal ideation developing (Young, Iglewicz, Glorioso, Lanouette, Seay, llapakurti & Zisook, 2012). In dealing with or 'processing' the loss of a loved one by suicide, Wertheimer details that, "suicidal thoughts are not uncommon during the early months of bereavement" (1991: 178). The incidence of young men dying by suicide is notably higher than that of women in this country; a stubborn gender difference persists in Ireland with males representing on average 80% of all suicides over the past nine years (www.cso.ie). Therefore it is questionable if those that have experienced a death by suicide are placed at an increased risk of suicidal ideation. It has been noted in the Reach Out report (2005) that "third level institutions have the opportunity to influence attitudes to mental health and help seeking among all students" (National Office for Suicide Prevention, 2005: 25).
Research aims: This research study endeavored to understand what it is like for CIT students to respond to a death by suicide by means of their awareness, attitudes and usage of supports and establish if gender trends exist. This research also aimed to look at what further initiatives/ support services could be developed and introduced to help promote positive mental health of students attending CIT.
Research method: A purposively developed questionnaire entitled 'Suicide Awareness' was administered to a total of 325 students attending CIT (of which 299 responses were used as part of this research). For added breadth and depth across the research themes, seven interviews were conducted with key informants consisting of student support professionals and an external professional.
Research findings: The most striking finding was that of the 299 questionnaires completed, a total of 58 respondents (21.5% of males (43), 15% of females (15)) expressed suicidal ideation concerns applying in respect to 104 fellow peers. This potentially reveals the sheer volume of students thought to be in a vulnerable position by fellow peers. Just under half of questionnaire respondents reported experiencing a death by suicide of which a mere 6% of males and 12.5% of females indicated they sought professional support. An overwhelming majority of student respondents indicated that they would be more inclined to seek support via the internet (m = 87.5%, f = 87%). However, a majority of interviewees proved reluctant to embrace such an initiative and were cautious that it might replace 'face to face' counselling which was viewed as a negative outcome.
Significance of research: This research identified a notable number of students are concerned for the welfare of their peers as a result of perceived suicidal ideation. Various gender differences and similarities were identified in CIT students' attitudes and usage of support services in response to mental health issues. The research identified that student's perceive low threshold support (e.g. CIT Lecturers) as the most helpful source of support for personal problems rather than formal professional support services (e.g. Counselling). The research identified areas of potential progress to further promote and maintain positive mental health amongst CIT students.
Conroy, Sandra, "Gender Difference When Processing Death by Suicide: Attitudes Amongst Third Level Students Aged 18-25 Attending Cork Institute of Technology and College Support Professionals" (2015). Masters [online].
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/hummas/2
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