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The Problem of Adolescent Suicide


The problem of adolescent suicide is researched from various angles. The complexity of this issue is addressed by many scholars who often focus on a specific aspect such as suicide prevention methods or therapy approaches in their works. For example, a study by Asarnow, Berk, Hughes, and Anderson (2015) examines the effectiveness of a program that uses family intervention to treat young individuals suffering from suicidal ideations.

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Its quantitative approach assesses the rate of repeating suicide attempts in youth and reveals a number of possible outcomes to this program. This paper aims to critique the article “The SAFETY Program: A Treatment-Development Trial of a Cognitive-Behavioral Family Treatment for Adolescent Suicide Attempters” by Asarnow, Berk, Hughes, and Anderson and evaluate such elements of the research as its background, method, results, and ethical considerations.

Background of Study

The authors of this work state that the problem of suicide among youth is extremely serious as the rates of suicide deaths and self-harm increase during this period (Asarnow et al., 2015). The research concerning this issue is full of studies that document various types of suicide prevention through describing them and evaluating their effectiveness.

However, according to Asarnow et al. (2015), one can notice a lack of quantitative studies that investigate the success of some techniques by using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and providing scholars with definitive proof of decrease in suicide rates of patients that go through a particular method of treatment. For example, this article examines the outcomes of the SAFETY Program directed at adolescents and their parents. Thus, the purpose of the study lies in the necessity to evaluate the results of the SAFETY Program in order to define its efficacy and “support the value of a randomized controlled trial” (Asarnow et al., 2015, p. 194).

The importance of the study also lies in finding more information about the effectiveness of such programs. The researchers attempt to answer multiple questions in this study. First of all, they try to establish whether RCTs are useful in showing the outcomes of suicide prevention programs. Secondly, the problem of a cognitive-behavioral model of treatment being effective is also present. Finally, the need to focus on the family of an individual and participation of all members is also discussed by the authors in this study. The purpose of the research and its questions are related to the main problem introduced in this work.

Method of Study

In this research, the authors aim to assess the outcomes of the use of the SAFETY Program among youth and their parents regarding improvements of the former in such aspects as suicidal behavior, feelings of hopelessness, rates of depression, and levels of social adjustment.

Moreover, parent depression and overall treatment satisfaction are measured in this study as well. The use of quantitative methods in this work is appropriate as it helps to answer the questions posed by the authors and presents the information that is relevant to the research aims (Hartas, 2015). The numbers and data described in this study show that the authors developed their research with the focus on family and socio-ecological methods of intervention.

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The article cites various sources that can help one to understand the issue of adolescent suicide rates. The authors mention both qualitative and quantitative studies while discussing the significance of their research in order to present the history of existing knowledge. While some of the references are not current, their use has a purpose of showing the main developments in the field and the depth of existing research (Yilmaz, 2013). Moreover, the authors present a number of systematic reviews on topics relevant to the study. Some older references also include books that discuss various evaluation methods and techniques that are used in this article. Multiple RCTs are referenced as well in order to show their usefulness in this sphere of research.

The authors indicate that some of the referenced studies have their weaknesses and limitations. For instance, older works do not attempt to use quantitative methods to find whether some techniques are more helpful than others. Moreover, the lack of information about specific treatments is outlined as well. Overall, the presented materials help the authors to build a logical argument and conclude that their research has significance.

Results of Study

The study findings show various outcomes to the SAFETY Program treatment. First of all, the authors present the rates of self-harm and suicide attempts, stating that there was a significant decrease in all indicators of suicidality (Asarnow et al., 2015).

The percentage of persons that completed the trial is also shown. Furthermore, the rates of hopelessness and depression among both young patients and their parents are stated to be lower after therapy. While such aspects as parental depression are reported to have medium size effects, the rates of depression and suicide attempts are significantly lower. Finally, the authors also present some data connected to the levels of patient satisfaction, noting that both parents and youth report to being positively influenced by this type of intervention.

The results of this study can be used in nursing as a way to advocate for the use of the SAFETY Program for adolescents with suicidal ideations and their parents. This study offers some measurable data that can be implemented and used in further research in order to assess other ways of suicide and depression prevention. Furthermore, the focus on parental support and participation also can be used in nursing education and practice as it gives nurses more information about the ways parents can help their children.

Ethical Considerations

The study is approved by an Institutional Review Board and completed according to all local requirements. Moreover, all participants remained anonymous. Both adolescents and adults gave their consent to participate in the trial. Some ethical considerations included the need for authors to be informed about possible suicide attempts during the trial in order to complete the study. The authors were also able to speak with hospital staff about the suicide attempts. All persons involved in this research were informed about this condition.


The thesis statement of the study is congruent with its findings as it is based on the idea that cognitive-based interventions such as the SAFETY Program that focus not only on adolescents but also on their parents can significantly decrease the rates of suicide attempts and self-harm. This article allows one to see that randomized controlled trials can be a useful method of finding whether a particular way of suicide prevention is helpful.

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Moreover, the authors collect much information on the topic of suicide and depression intervention and argue that the emphasis on family is hugely significant to the success of this treatment. The findings of this study present an opportunity for further research with a broader sample and target population. Furthermore, one can learn about the SAFETY Program and its results from this study. The significance of the research also lies in the fact that its data can be used for evaluating other methods as well. Most importantly, the focus on cognitive-based therapies and parental support offers nurses a way to advocate for the creation of new strategies for more effective suicide prevention.


Asarnow, J. R., Berk, M., Hughes, J. L., & Anderson, N. L. (2015). The SAFETY program: A treatment-development trial of a cognitive-behavioral family treatment for adolescent suicide attempters. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 44(1), 194-203.

Hartas, D. (Ed.). (2015). Educational research and inquiry: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Yilmaz, K. (2013). Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research traditions: Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European Journal of Education, 48(2), 311-325.

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