Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


School of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Greg Dear


Drug use has long been considered a risk factor when assessing the likelihood of an individual committing suicide (Weiss & Hufford, 1999). The research to date is primarily correlative and provides little guidance to the clinician when assessing the role that drug use plays in influencing the risk of suicide for a given individual. Clinical observations within the literature (Downey, 1991; Motto, 1999) report that alcohol or other drug (AOD) use may provide the means to regulate emotional distress. No published studies were found that examined the proposition that AOD use may have a range of positive as well as negative impacts en suicide risk. The aim of the current research was to gather perspectives on the relationship between AOD and coexisting suicidal ideation from which recommendations informing clinical practice were sought. Two samples were interviewed in an exploratory qualitative study. The first sample comprised clinicians who have experience in working with substance use issues and suicidal clients; the second comprised clients which have both substance use problems and have recently been suicidal. Eleven clinicians were drawn from a wide range of work settings and disciplines. Each had extensive clinical experience with suicidal young people who use nonprescribed substances. The client sample consisted of ten clients (19-24 years of age) drawn from either a mental health service or an outpatient drug treatment service. They were required to have had a clinically significant level of suicidal ideation in the three months prior to the interview along with meeting DSM IV criteria for substance dependence or substance abuse

Included in

Psychology Commons