Academic journal article Social Work

HIV/AIDS and Suicide: Be Open

Academic journal article Social Work

HIV/AIDS and Suicide: Be Open

Article excerpt

The article by Mancoske, Wadsworth, Dugas, and Hasney (1995) "Suicide Risk among People Living with AIDS" contains the underlying assumption that suicide is always unacceptable and a "mental health problem." In addition, there is no distinction among individuals who are newly diagnosed with HIV, those who are asymptomatic, and those who have multiple opportunistic infections.

I am a clinician who has specialized in work with HIV clients. I have had to face clients' considering "rational" suicide on a number of occasions. It is noteworthy to point out that the 1993 NASW Delegate Assembly reinforced our key value as social workers of client self-determination, specifically as it relates to end-of-life decisions:

Social workers should be free to participate or not participate in assisted-suicide matters or other discussions concerning end-of-life decisions depending on their own beliefs, attitudes, and value systems. If a social worker is unable to help with decisions about assisted suicide or other end-of-life choices, he or she has a professional obligation to refer patients and their families to competent professionals who are available to address end-of-life issues. (NASW, 1994, p. 60)

If we do not involve ourselves and instead communicate that in all instances we must intervene or prevent suicide, we will have suicidal clients who do not talk with us. …

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