Original Research

Self-confidence and knowledge of suicide assessment and prevention amongst first-line health professionals in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

Adeyinka A. Alabi
South African Family Practice | Vol 64, No 1 : Part 1| a5377 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v64i1.5377 | © 2022 Adeyinka Abiodun Alabi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 July 2021 | Published: 10 January 2022

About the author(s)

Adeyinka A. Alabi, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Dora Nginza Regional Hospital, Gqeberha, South Africa; and, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


Background: First-line health professionals are uniquely positioned to recognise suicidal behaviours in patients. However, the opportunities are often missed or poorly managed. Self-confidence and knowledge of suicide prevention and assessment by health professionals can lead to prompt recognition and management of at-risk individuals. This study evaluates the first-line health professionals’ self-confidence and knowledge of suicide assessment in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM), South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in six healthcare facilities across NMBM between January 2020 and March 2020. Five hundred first-line healthcare professionals were recruited to respond to a validated self-administered questionnaire to collect demographic characteristics, self-confidence levels and knowledge of suicide assessment and associated factors.

Results: A total of 344 first-line health professionals completed the questionnaire (68.8% response rate); 40% of the respondents work in emergency units and 77.3% reported frequent encounters with patients who attempted suicide. Most participants had not received suicide assessment training during their undergraduate or postgraduate years (59.6% and 81.1%, respectively). They also lacked adequate knowledge and self-confidence in suicide assessment. Younger age, minimal work experience and attendance of two or more hours of suicide prevention training were associated with higher knowledge of suicide assessment.

Conclusion: Findings revealed gaps in self-confidence and knowledge of suicide management, attributed to lack of training in suicide management. Health authorities should prioritise upskilling of front-line workers in suicide prevention and assessment, specifically targeting older nurses in the region.


suicide; suicide attempts; first-line health professionals; knowledge; competency


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