The Role Of Guidance And Counseling In Suicide Prevention Among Secondary School Students In Oredo LGA, Edo State

Project and Seminar Material for Guidance and Counselling

The Role Of Guidance And Counseling In Suicide Prevention Among Secondary School Students In Oredo LGA, Edo State


Abstract


Many suicides among teenagers can be prevented if appropriate help is available to students. Since early detection is an important means of hindering suicide attempts, school professionals continue to play a crucial role in preventing suicide among students.

The purpose of this study was to measure guidiance and counseling understanding, perceptions, and awareness of students suicide in a metro suburban secondary school in Oredo LGA, . Data was collected through a survey distributed to school professionals in the Oredo LGA, secondary schools Edo

This study attempted to answer the following research questions: are secondary school counselors aware of students suicide; what are the school counselors perceptions of students suicide; and do the school counselors understand suicide among the students population?

Overall, the findings of this study seem to suggest that school professionals are knowledgeable and aware of students suicide. While this is reassuring, the fact is that not all participants indicated awareness of these important indicators of students suicide. Education is the key to decreasing the prevalence of suicide thoughts, attempts, and completions among students.


Chapter One


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Every society is dynamic and has its peculiar problems. However, when these problems, overwhelm the young ones who have no coping ability, they may start thinking of risky behaviour of suicide or attempt suicide. Suicide among teens and young adults is a complex and distressing problem (Tellioglu, 2006). To contemplate suicide at any age is awful. When it involves a teenager who has a life full of potentials ahead of him, it is almost too awful (Behning, 2006).

In recent years the rate of suicide among adolescents has risen to alarming proportions (Goldman, 1988). Worldwide, suicide is among the top five causes of mortality in the 15 to 19 years age group in many countries, suicide ranks first as a cause of death among both boys and girls in this age group (World Health Organization (WHO), 2000). In persons between the ages of 15-34years, it is the third leading cause of death (Vijayokumar, Nagaraji, & John, 2004). However, incidence and pattern of suicide varies from country to country depending on social, cultural, and religious values (Saeed, Bashir, Khan, Igbal, Rajo, &Rehman, 2002). It is considered a sin or immoral act in many religions and a crime to help someone commit suicide in some countries. On the other hand, some culture have view it as an honorable way to exit certain shameful or hopelessness situations (Columbia University Press, 2003).

Suicide is the act of taking one‟s life voluntarily and intentionally (Saeed, Bashir, Khan, Igbal, Rajo, and Rehman, 2002). Suicide is a self-execution, an act in which one deliberately and intentionally kills himself, is gradually seen as extreme and complex behaviour, involving all aspects of human experience, the biological, psychological, social, and environmental aspect of life (Moscicki, 1994). It is the act of deliberately taking one‟s life. Suicidal behaviour is any action with potentially life threatening consequences, such as taking a drug overdose (Taylor, 2003).
Suicide attempts or completed suicide have bearing in suicidal thoughts or ideas. When a person has ideas or thoughts about suicide, it is called suicide ideation. Ideation is the collective representation of thoughts and ideas, recalled from memory, or projected into the future, singly or combined (Segen, 2002). Ideation is also viewed as knowledge or understanding of something without being certain about it, belief or opinion, a purpose or reason for doing something (Procter, 1995). According to Wordnet (2007), ideation is the process of forming and relating ideas. When these ideas are related to suicide, it is termed suicide ideation.

A host of life events, personal and social variables must be involved when people have thoughts about suicide and when they actually make attempts. Such an extreme and unusual occurrence reflects the combined effect of these variables, which are difficult to study because of their complexity (Reich, Newsom, &Zautra, 1996). However suicidal ideation is maladaptive and realistic precursor in many cases of suicide attempt (Hawton, 1986).

Suicide ideation is the capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas that are suicidal in nature (Wikipedia, 2007). According to National Centre for Health Statistics (2007), suicidal ideation is having thoughts of suicide or thinking of taking action to end one‟s life. Suicidal ideation includes all thoughts of suicides, both when thoughts include a plan to commit suicide and when they do not include a plan. This means that suicidal ideation will include the wish or the plan to commit suicide.

Suicidal ideation, given its specificity to cognitions, is consistent with a cognitive behavioral focus (Kendal &Hollon, 1981), and may be viewed as a domain of self-statements. It extends from vague wishes that do not exist (extremely mild ideation) to thoughts quite specific to the act of suicide such as thinking about how and when one will kill himself or herself.

Suicidal ideation is a common medical term for the mere thoughts about and of plans of committing suicide, not the actual following through or act itself. People who undergo suicide ideation do not commit suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies greatly from fleeting, detailed planning, role-playing, and half-hearted attempt. Fleeting as applied to suicide ideation refers to someone having an idea about intention to commit suicide, but this idea soon fades away and starts again. Planning refers to the process of outlining the activities to be carried out in a purposive manner including the methods to be used in committing suicide. Role-playing is attempting or acting out the activities outlined under planning to explore the possibility of how it will work. Finally, half-hearted attempt is concerned with field testing or trying the plan of committing suicide but not with the actual intention to commit the action (suicide) (Wikipedia, 2007).

Suicide ideation can be active and this involves a current desire and plan to die. Suicidal ideation can be passive, involving a desire to die but without a plan to bring about one‟s death (Shields & Barton, 2005). Suicidal ideation is often the precursor of later and more serious, suicide related behaviour (Konick& Gutierrez, 2005). Wikipedia, (2007) indicated that, regardless of what percentage of people with suicidal ideation that commit suicide, it is still risk factor for suicide. Andrews and Lewinsohn, (1992), Dubow, Kausch, Blum, Reed, and Bush (1989), explained that many adolescent suicide attempters express high levels of suicide ideation, however, many suicide ideations never attempt suicide. Rohde, Seeley, and Mace (1997), further indicated more importantly that adolescents who make one suicide attempt have an elevated risk for future attempts and completed suicide.

Suicidal ideation, which includes thinking about the reasons for and ways of killing oneself, and suicide attempts are related to variety of life events in childhood and adolescence. For instance, confusion and frustration in coming to terms with gender identity, gender role, as well as sexual orientation may lead to a feeling of depression and suicidal ideation (Frisch & Frisch, 1998). This view is also supported by (Allan, Kashani, Dahlmeier, Taghizadeh, & Reid, 1997), that there appears to be a dramatic rise in suicidal behaviour as children make the critical transition from childhood to adolescence and young adult. Suicidal thoughts become abnormal in children and adolescents when the realization of those thoughts seems to be the only way out of their difficulties. There is then a serious risk of attempted suicide or suicide (WHO, 2000).

Many adolescents who are suicidal are also depressed or in a state of extreme demoralization as in the case with adults (Beck, Kovacs, &Weissman, 1975; Beck, Steer, Kovacs, & Garrison, 1985). Suicidal adolescents often feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness (Garfinkel, Froese, & Hood, 1982; Robbins &Alessi, 1985). However, hopelessness appears to be experienced by many adolescents, not just those who think about or attempt suicide (Spirito, Slark, Fristad, Hart, & Owens-Stively, in press). Adolescents frequently find themselves under tremendous stress. Problems most often occur when stressors at home, school, and with peers occur within a context of minimal social and emotional support. These problems are further exacerbated when there is lack of coping strategies or when behavioral deficit or dysfunction exists.

For the purpose of this study, suicidal ideation refers to an individual who has thoughts to die, which involves the process of fantasizing, planning and motivation to commit suicide.

Research has shown that adolescents are at greatest risk when they are experiencing a major negative life event, having a lot of “hassles” and having little social support (Reynolds & Waltz, 1986). Other investigators have also noted the relationship between high life stress and suicidal ideation and behavior in young adults (Schotte&Clum, 1982) and adolescents (Smith & Crawford, 1986).

Apart from the home, school, and peers contributing to suicide behaviours, suicidal behaviour tends to differ on the basis of gender, age, and grade or class and location. Factors of gender have been suspected to be associated with suicide ideation, and Frisch & Frisch (1998), maintained that there are significant gender differences in rates of adolescents suicide, while more females admit having suicidal ideation and more attempts at suicide; more males actually succeed in completing suicide. These differences have been found to be related to gender feelings of loneliness and experiences of substance abuse in males than female adolescents.

Many adolescents including secondary school students are involved in chronic drug use, which leads to drug abuse and addiction. For example, marijuana is a drug commonly used in Nigeria since after the civil war. This substance has been linked with acute psycho toxic reactions, withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, sweating, and hyperactivity. Adolescents who are found under these conditions may think of committing suicide. The high incidence of armed robbery, assassinations and other crimes are often as a result of drug abuse. When some of these adolescents commit some of these crimes, some of their accomplices are caught, those who escape may think of committing suicide while, others commit suicide. The society frowns at adolescents‟ misbehavior, rebellion, riots and other crimes. When they are napped in these vices, there is a tendency for them to think of taking their lives to escape from the shame.

Mohr (2003) stated that it is often hard for parents and teachers to detect the warning signs of suicidal behaviour. He documented the signs of suicide to include statements such as “I won‟t be around for you to yell at” or “you won‟t have to worry about me much longer” (p.673). Lack of emotional responsiveness, social withdrawal, inability to enjoy previously enjoyed activities, drug or alcohol abuse, threat making, and giving away of possessions and certain cheerfulness after being depressed, may not be common to adolescents but some may be present, for example, lack of emotional responsiveness, social withdrawal and drug misuse or abuse.

Attempted or completed suicide may to a large extent be preceded by suicidal ideation. These situations may not always be uncommon with adolescents as those in the present study. Situations which may give rise to suicidal thoughts in Nigeria abound. According to WHO (2007), lack of reliable information at local/regional/national levels significantly undermines the problem of suicidal ideation or attempted suicide. In the case of suicides, considerable under reporting and misclassification occurs in data gathering. Hospital information systems do not include suicides and these are often listed under “injuries and accidents” or occasionally under “mental health problems”. Adolescents‟ suicidal ideation or behaviour is widely deemed to be under reported, because many deaths of this type are inaccurately classified as unintentional or accidental (WHO, 2000).

WHO (2000) indicated that in some countries there is an alarming increase in suicide among children aged less than 15, as well as in the 15-19 year age group. Therefore, the identification of adolescents‟ severity of suicide ideation serves as a variable proactive approach for the identification of youth at risk of suicide. This explains why this study is pertinent especially in Taraba State.

Investigations have continued to focus on suicidal ideation as an important aspect of suicidal behaviour in adolescents and young adults. Schotte and Clum (1982) noted the importance of research on suicidal ideation “especially since there is demonstrated relationship between the frequency of suicidal ideation and the likelihood of suicide attempting” (p.690). Furthermore, they asserted that “with adult attempters, suicidal ideation and depression explained the greatest proportion of the variance in adolescent suicide behaviour; the more serious the suicidal ideation, the more likely was the adolescent to have attempted suicide” (p.491).

Most families in Edo state are observed to be large families, with high rate of unemployment, and with schools under equipped and under staff, and with HIV/AIDS affecting many families, which have resulted to several children, with attended family poverty, low parental and school monitoring of the children. Consequently, in the course of adolescent development, they are likely to encounter emotional disturbance, frustration, anxiety, depression and hopelessness. In this situation, the adolescents who are in the study area may get involved in antisocial vices like substance use, robbery, prostitution, and other antisocial crimes. These aforementioned personality problems will subject the adolescent student to suicidal ideation.The study therefore is intended to find out the role of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

In the course of development, the adolescence is volatile and characterized by role change. Communication is problematic; they often feel very isolated (Behning, 2006). James (2005) had indicated that some 7-14 per cent adolescents will self-harm themselves at some time in their life and 20-45 per cent of older adolescents are reported having had suicidal thoughts at some time.

Adolescence is the period of psychological, social, and physical transition between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence is the stage of psychological breakthrough in a person‟s life when the cognitive development is rapid and the thoughts, ideas, and concepts developed at this period of life greatly influence the individual‟s life in future and play a major role in character formation. In the course of character formation, adolescents could develop problems such as emotional distress, frustration, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. As Warren, Smith, and Tyler (1983), puts it, adolescents and young adults often experience stress, confusion, and depression from situations occurring in their families, schools, and communities. Such feelings can overwhelm young people thus leading them to think or consider possible solutions, including suicidal thoughts or suicide.

The groups under study are secondary school adolescents in Jalingo Local Government Area who are also undergoing developmental and social changes. In the course of these changes, any unsatisfactory change will cause some of them to experience such things as stress, confusion, and depression, which can predispose them into antisocial vices like drug abuse or addiction, prostitution, and crimes like robbery. Consequently, some of them may start thinking of suicide or even attempting suicide. This lends support to (Frisch & Frisch, 1998), who indicated that suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts are related to variety of life events in childhood and adolescence. For instance, confusion and frustration in coming to terms with gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation may lead to feelings of depression and suicidal ideation. Those experiencing suicidal ideation or thoughts about fatally harming one‟s self, may struggle to be heard or understood and a person feeling suicidal may also wish to avoid being seen as making suicide threats. This may lead to a situation where a person attempts or commits suicide without telling friends or family members of how they felt (Columbia University Press, 2003). This situation may not be different among secondary school students in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State.

The role of guidance and counselling (G/C) services among youths cannot be overemphasized. G/C services have always played a leading role in terms of child‘s development and improvement. For this reason, G/C services are sine qua non to child‘s development. Okobiah and Okorodudu (2006) highlighted that Guidance and Counselling is encompassed by activities of relevant services and also processes of helping persons within and outside the school, to achieve their full potentialities in their emotional, moral, social, academic and vocational developments. Esen (1998) says that guidance and counselling is aimed primarily at assisting the receiver to discover his own hidden strengths and ultimately grow in independence and ability to take his own decisions, make choices or adjustments unaided.

When all the above listed has been resolved, then G/C could effectively be utilized as coping strategy for inculcating the consciousness of peace, conflict resolution and national security among secondary school students in Edo State. Thus, the present study tried to examine the relevance of utilizing effective G/C services as coping strategy for inculcating the consciousness of peace, conflict resolution and national security among secondary school youths‘ in Edo State through effective utilization of guidance and


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to assess the role of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state. The specific factors are given as follows;

  1. To determine the extent of students’ intention or wish to commit suicide as a way of solving problems among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.
  2. To determine therole of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.
  3. To identify the challenges that deter the effectiveness of guidance and counseling services among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions are to guide the researcher in her study and provide answer to the research questions

  1. What is the extent of students’ intention or wish to commit suicide as a way of solving problems among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state?
  2. What is the role of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state?
  3. What arethe challenges that deter the effectiveness of guidance and counseling services among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated and tested in the study:

  • HO1:There is no significant role ofguidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.
  • HO2:There is a significant role ofguidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Suicide is a serious issue that many people prefer not to discuss, but it is something that affects many people at some point in their life. Suicide can be a very difficult thing to understand. If someone you know may be suicidal, it’s important to recognize the signs beforehand so they can get the help and counseling they need. With proper education, everyone can be made more aware of the possible risks for suicide as well as the underlying causes. There are many different reasons someone may want to commit suicide, and in many cases, they can be saved if they get the help they need in time.


1.7 Scope of the Study

This work is focused on assessing the role of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state. The students will make up the respondents for this study in selected secondary schools in the study area.


1.8 Limitations of the Study

In the process of carrying out the current study, the researcher encountered some limitations. Firstly, since the focus of this study was on the role of guidance and counseling in suicide prevention among secondary school students in Oredo LGA, Edo state, the conclusions drawn from this study cannot be generalized to other populations or areas. Secondly, the researcher faced time constraints and financial constraints in the course of this study.


1.9 Definition of Terms

Guidance and Counselling:

Guidance counseling, byname counseling and guidance, the process of helping individuals discover and develop their educational, vocational, and psychological potentialities and thereby to achieve an optimal level of personal happiness and social usefulness.

Suicide:

Refers to the action of killing oneself intentionally.

Suicide Prevention:

Refers to the process of helping individuals with suicidal intent to avoid going through with their ideation.

Secondary School:

A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place.


Chapter Five


Discussions, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Introduction

This chapter will include a discussion of the findings in this study, a summary of important results, and recommendations for the surveyed secondary school, school professionals, and for further research.


5.1 Discussion

Education and awareness is the key to helping school professionals identify students at risk and getting them the proper help they need. According to King (2001), suicide prevention training for school professionals can increase their awareness of suicide warning signs, knowledge of resources, and ability to make referrals. The researcher’s results concurred with these findings. The more education participants had on students suicide, the more they were able to identify students at risk and were better able to intervene with these students.

There are many universally held misconceptions about suicide. Providing assistance for those who are at-risk is often halted by these myths. According to Americas Continuing Education Network (2003, n.p.), “by dispelling the myths, school professionals will be in a better position to identify those who are at-risk and to provide the help that is needed.” The results of this study indicated that some participants agreed with common misconceptions about students suicide. Further assistance and education can help school professionals dispel these myths and better their position to help students at risk.

Every school should have a crisis intervention team implemented. A crisis team should consist of a diverse group of school professionals, such as the principal, counselors, teachers, and school nurse (King, 2001). Results showed that not all of the secondary school staff counselors know about a crisis team and there was some confusion as to who was on the team. Participants indicated that their crisis team possibly included deans, administration, school psychologist, nurse, police resource officer, chemical dependency educator, and teacher.
Conclusions

Overall, the findings of this study seem to suggest that school professionals are knowledgeable and aware of students suicide. While this is reassuring, the fact is that not all participants indicated awareness of these important indicators of students suicide.

Approximately 50% of the school professionals had students express suicidal thoughts or intent. Only 56% of all participants felt they could intervene with potentially suicidal students.

Approximately 77% (n=30) were aware of a crisis intervention team. Only 70% (n=27) could list school professionals on the crisis team. Of those 27 participants who listed staff members on the crisis team, there were 11 different responses. These results indicate that the school’s crisis intervention team and plan is not well known in the building.

School programs and activities should focus on increasing staff and student awareness of suicide warning signs, risk factors, and the proper referral procedures. Approximately 61.5% of school professionals suggested that suicide issues were addressed within the curriculum. Participants indicated that health, family and consumer science courses, teen issues, and small group communication addressed suicide issues. Recommendations for the Surveyed Secondary school

The results seem to indicate that more education is needed to increase school counselors awareness of suicide risk factors and warning signs and symptoms.

Perhaps the school should have school-based suicide prevention and intervention training for all school professionals working in the building.

Results also indicate that the majority of participants were not accurately aware of who served on the crisis intervention team. All staff in the building should be made aware of crisis intervention procedures and appropriate school professionals to contact and refer at-risk students. While teachers and other staff members are not qualified to diagnose and treat suicidal students, they should assist in recognizing students at-risk and conveying that information to school counselors and school psychologists. This procedure could possibly be explained in a mandatory staff meeting at the beginning of the school year.

Everyone should be educated on how to intervene with suicidal students and the proper referral procedures to follow.


5.2 Recommendations for School Professionals

Because suicide is of such a serious and important nature, school professionals should take it upon themselves to increase their awareness of students suicide and crisis intervention procedures within their school. Find out who is on your crisis intervention team, what procedures to follow and who to contact when a student expresses potential suicidal thoughts or intent.

There are many universally held misconceptions about suicide. According to Americas Continuing Education Network (2003, n.p.), “by dispelling the myths, school professionals will be in a better position to identify those who are at-risk and to provide the help that is needed.”

In order to refer at risk students, educators need to be aware of the risk factors, warning signs, and symptoms of students suicide. Workshops, conferences, on-the-job- training, in-service training, professional journals, and media coverage are just a few resources out there for professional development on students suicide. Ongoing training and evaluation of suicide prevention is needed.

A complete suicide prevention program cannot entirely operate without external support and resources. Schools should strive to form and sustain positive relationships with other community resources. Providing school professionals readily available agencies and services to contact is most beneficial when a student suicide threat or attempt is made.

Parent involvement in children’s education is encouraged. When schools promote healthy relationships with parents, parents are more likely to support and cooperate with programs schools offer. Perhaps the school could offer a parent class on recognizing signs and symptoms of depression, suicide risk factors, and warning signs of students suicide. Teachers and parents can work together with schools to intervene.

Participants were given the opportunity to express how schools play a role in suicide prevention. The following ideas came from school professionals surveyed: schools need to educate students about alternatives to suicide, as well as where and who to ask for help; schools should educate peers to understand and recognize the warning signs and how to intervene; teach students about depression; collaborate with the community (parents, churches, police, social workers, etc,.); destigmatize mental illnesses; educate parents about available help and resources within the community; and educate parents to notice subtle changes in their children’s behavior.


5.3 Recommendations for Further Research

One of the limitations of this study was the low participation rate. It would have been more effective to attend a school staff meeting to announce the researcher’s study so all staff members were aware of it before surveys were distributed in their mailbox. A higher return rate would have better represented the metro suburban secondary school.

The researcher distributed the surveys 2 weeks before Christmas break. When the return rate was low at the first deadline, the researcher used the 2 weeks after Christmas break to get more surveys. These were very busy times in the school and it is suggested that surveying be done at a different time in the semester. The researcher was aware of the bad timing and needed to collect data in order to reach thesis deadlines. It is suggested that the thesis process and pace of progress be considered well in advance so timing of data collection gives participants more time to fill out the survey and so the researcher will have the best return rate for more representative results.

The survey itself was created by the researcher and may have had its own limitations. The survey inquired about the schools’ role in suicide prevention and didn’t mention help from parents or the community.


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