Review: The views and experiences of suicidal children and young people of mental health support services: A meta-ethnography



Gilmour L, Ring N & Maxwell M (2019) Review: The views and experiences of suicidal children and young people of mental health support services: A meta-ethnography. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 24 (3), pp. 217-229.

Background: Suicide is amongst the leading causes of death in young people globally and a health priority worldwide. For children and young people (CYP) attempting or considering suicide there is no agreed treatment model. Development of treatment models should be informed by the views and experiences of CYP using services. Methods: Meta-ethnography was used to systematically identify and synthesise studies reporting the views of CYP who used mental health services following suicidal behaviour. Relevant studies were quality appraised. First order (participants) and second order (original author) data were translated to identify common and disconfirming themes and concepts. Translated findings were synthesised and led to a new hypothesis supported by additional 'linguistic analysis' of texts to construct a novel third order line-of-argument. Results: Four studies conducted since 2006 in three countries involving 44 young people aged 11-24 years were synthesised. Translation revealed that suicidal CYP do not know where or how to access help, they cannot access help directly and when seen by mental health practitioners they do not feel listened to. Line-of-argument synthesis identified a silence around suicidality within the conversations CYP have with mental health practitioners and within academic research reporting. Use of the term 'self-harm' to encompass suicidal behaviours potentially contributes to this silence by avoiding the word 'suicide'. Conclusions: CYP who are suicidal need to have easy access to mental health services. When using services, they want to feel listened to and have suicidal feelings acknowledged. This involves professionals referring explicitly to suicide not just self-harm.

Child; Adolescent; Suicide; Meta-ethnography; Qualitative; Synthesis

Child and Adolescent Mental Health: Volume 24, Issue 3

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date30/09/2019
Publication date online18/03/2019
Date accepted by journal31/01/2019

People (2)


Dr Lynne Gilmour

Dr Lynne Gilmour

Research Fellow, NMAHP

Professor Margaret Maxwell

Professor Margaret Maxwell

Professor, NMAHP