Background. The risk of suicidal tendencies in HIV-infected persons appears high and may parallel the increasing prevalence of suicidal behaviour in South Africa. Objective. To construct a brief suicide risk screening scale (SRSS) as a self-administered instrument to screen for suicidal ideation in recently diagnosed HIV-infected persons. Methods. An SRSS was developed, drawing 14 items from two established screening tests, and assessed using a sample of 150 HIV-infected consenting adults identified at a voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) clinic at an academic district level hospital in Durban, South Africa. Participants returned three weeks after their initial assessment for a re-assessment. Results. The internal consistency of the SRSS was good (Cronbach's alpha, 0.87), and its sensitivity (81%) was higher than its specificity (47%). The findings suggest that, despite certain limitations, the SRSS may be a valuable screening tool for suicidal ideation at VCT clinics. Conclusion. Screening for suicide risk and possible suicidal behaviour in HIV-positive persons may form a routine aspect of comprehensive patient care at VCT clinics to assist with effective prevention and treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases