Research Project (1): Suicide Attempts & Help-seeking Behavior

Just a Little Background

Hello world 🙂 This post is created for the week 1 assignment for the Coursera course Data Management and Visualization by Wesleyan University. This course is the first course for the 4-course Data Analysis and Interpretation specialization.

I will write a series of posts for this research project to record the learning process. This is the beginning of this journey, so in the title it is research project (1). There is going to be (2) , (3)… and more!

My academic background is in public health and mental health, so I chose the NESARC dataset to look at the relationship between suicide attempts and help-seeking behavior.

“The U.S. National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) is a survey designed to determine the magnitude of alcohol use and psychiatric disorders in the U.S. population. It is a representative sample of the non-institutionalized population 18 years and older.” – from course content

Research Topic

Research question: Is there an association between help-seeking behavior and suicide attempts?

By asking this question, what I really want to know is that whether early help-seeking can help decrease suicide attempts. That being said, I understand that association doesn’t equal causation, so my goal here is not to define a causal relationship, but simply make a discovery of the association.

According to Michelmore & Hindley’s systematic review (2012) of 23 studies regarding help-seeking behavior for suicide ideation among young adults aged 18-26, the majority of them have never asked for help from mental health professional, while 40%-68% had informal help-seeking from peers and family members. Older age groups (18-26) were found to be more likely to seek help, while adolescents were more reluctant to seek help. Barriers of help-seeking are often the belief that one should solve one’s own problem, instead of practical barriers such as access to mental health resources.

However, little literature looked at the effects of help-seeking at a younger age. To examine the effects of help-seeking timing, I am going to conduct secondary data analysis with the hypothesis and variables listed below.

  • Hypothesis: Among young adults age 18-26, the earlier the first time of help seeking occurs, the less likely they have suicide attempts.
  • Code book: page 4, 305, 327

How I plan to use the chosen variables

Step 1. Using variable AGE, create a subset for my selected population: those who aged 18-26;

Step 2. Explore the relationship between the dichotomous variable “ATTEMPTED SUICIDE” and the quantitative variable “AGE AT FIRST TIME SOUGHT HELP”. (I may recode “AGE AT FIRST TIME SOUGHT HELP” into several dummy codes before this step.)

References (APA format)

Michelmore, L., & Hindley, P. (2012). Help‐Seeking for Suicidal Thoughts and Self‐Harm in Young People: A Systematic Review. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 42(5), 507-524.

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