Developing and evaluating a module to teach suicide prevention communication skills to student pharmacists

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This study aimed to determine whether a brief educational intervention for student pharmacists about individuals who exhibit suicide warning signs improves knowledge and confidence to recognize suicide warning signs, ask about suicide, validate feelings, and expedite referrals.


This longitudinal, observational study was conducted with student pharmacists from two pharmacy schools in 2019. Students completed a suicide prevention module adapted from the Veteran Administration's S.A.V.E. suicide prevention gatekeeper training program (completion rate 67%). The module included a video case of an individual who exhibits suicide warning signs, a brief didactic lecture, and a role-play practice session. Text responses were coded by three independent raters. Students completed a multiple-choice pretest and posttest to assess knowledge and confidence. Paired samples t-tests were calculated to examine changes in students' knowledge and confidence scores.


Students' (N = 139) confidence and knowledge in recognizing and managing suicide warning signs improved significantly. There was improvement in how many students directly asked about suicide and expedited a referral. Most students (86%) reported planning to incorporate what they learned into practice.


In two schools of pharmacy, a brief suicide prevention module was implemented and adapted to the community pharmacy setting, which improved pharmacy students' knowledge and confidence to interact with an individual who exhibits suicide warning signs. S.A.V.E. teaches students how to communicate with an individual in crisis in a way that can be integrated into a busy pharmacy workflow, which may be why students planned to incorporate it into practice.


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