A Community-Engaged Approach to Understanding Suicide in a Small Rural County in Georgia: A Two-Phase Content Analysis of Individual and Focus Group Interviews

Kimberly Beth Roth, Eleni Gaveras, Fatima Ghiathi, Eric Kendall Shaw, Melanie Shanlin Shoemaker, Nicholas Adam Howard, Meena Dhir, Genesis Rebeca Caiza, Hannah Selene Szlyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Suicide is a significant public health problem, with disproportionate rates in rural areas. Rural communities face substantial structural and cultural barriers to suicide prevention. This study aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the need for suicide prevention and gauge the appropriateness of prevention efforts in the context of a rural Georgia county by leveraging existing community resources and knowledge. Twenty one-on-one, semi-structured interviews and two focus groups were conducted, with participants recruited via purposive snowball sampling. Data analysis included qualitative deductive and inductive content analysis from individual interviews and focus groups with community stakeholders. The findings highlight how rural contexts exacerbate drivers of death by suicide and how the substantial loss of community members to suicide contributes to the ongoing crisis and reduces available support. Access to mental health care often depended on a connection to an established public system such as schools, a military base, or Veterans Administration. There were perceived gaps in crisis and post-crisis services, with participants actively trying to address these gaps and build community support through coalition building. This study contributes knowledge to contextual drivers of suicide in rural areas beyond individual-level risk factors. Community-engaged suicide prevention research in rural areas is promising, but there is a need to develop interventions to best support coalition building and capacity development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7145
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume20
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • community-engaged
  • mental health
  • qualitative
  • rural
  • suicide prevention

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