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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Treatment and rehabilitation of attempted suicide patients : an exploratory study of 71 cases admitted to Vancouver General Hospital in 1948 Cheriton, Lorna


This is an exploratory assessment of the help given suicide patients admitted to a general hospital. The focus of the study is twofold: (a) to examine the kind of treatment administered at the hospital, including rehabilitation and follow-up plans for each patient; and (b) to determine the role of the social worker in this program. The study is based on the examination of the hospital records of 71 patients, who attempted suicide in 1948, and were admitted to Vancouver General Hospital for observation and treatment. The group as a whole is described with the aid of statistical data, no attempt being made to deduce causes from this evidence. More emphasis has been placed on the mental and emotional aspects of suicide, to outline some of the deeper, unconscious causations of suicidal behaviour. Case illustrations are discussed in the attempt to exemplify these factors. The theoretical background of the thesis is drawn from psychiatric literature in United States and Great Britain. Evidence in this study suggest that almost no help is given these patients, in the hospital, to relieve the psychological and social conflicts. There are grounds for urging that the social worker could play a valuable role in the treatment team, and that social work services are not being used to the extent they could be. Suggestions are presented regarding an adequate hospital program for suicidal patients, in which the psychiatrists, social worker, psychologist and nurses would work together to make a clinical study of each patient. On the basis of adequate clinical study, constructive recommendations on treatment and rehabilitation plans could be made, and the groundwork laid for an adequate program of follow-up services.

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