Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research

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Human civilization has thrived on this planet for centuries. With the need to coexist, human beings have rules that govern society, mitigating right from wrong. Ethics is anchored on the moral standards followed as a civilization. Depending on cultures and beliefs, ethics differ from one community to another. Ideas on what is considered right and wrong are not universal. Since research involves experts from various fields, ethics bind them together. With ethics in mind, researchers can find out the information they seek without harming others. In this way, research continues to provide a gateway for humans to better themselves. Research, in general, comes with some ethical setbacks that hinder obtaining accurate information. Therefore, this paper dives into the difficulties of ethical research in teenage suicide.

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For a research study to be carried out, its intended outcomes need to be stipulated. The research aims to gather information on subjects or phenomena and expand the perception of specific topics (Sisti & Joffe, 2018). Teenage suicide is often considered a taboo topic and lacks enough research. Investigating teenage suicide rates would help navigate and prevent future occurrences. With most clinical studies, the impending social and clinical value is often tangible. For suicide, the outcomes are intangible as one cannot quantify the potential lives saved from a mental health condition. Currently, suicide is not caused by any validated biological factors (Nugent et al., 2019). Due to meticulously unnoticeable symptoms of suicide ideation, its value is often invisible. Researchers often avoid investigating suicide as it does not provide much of a social and clinical impact on paper.

A research study also needs to be scientifically valid, which refers to the extent to which research measures what it claims to measure. It is the inquiry on whether an analysis will achieve its goals (Sisti & Joffe, 2018). With appropriate methods of data collection, the study should justify itself. In investigating the actions that intercept individuals from engrossing in suicidal behavior, the results need to provide conclusive answers without harboring the subjects’ mental state (Nugent et al., 2019). The researcher would need to create a definitive method of obtaining information without unnecessary prying or coercing the subjects. In this case, it would be difficult to tell whether the results are void of any informational bias or inaccuracies.

A research study is heavily dependent on the subjects involved. Candidates for research should be carefully selected based on the requirements. No section of a community or population should be deliberately left out (Sisti & Joffe, 2018). Suicide ideation is challenging to identify as it progresses differently in individuals. With a study curated for the teenage age group, the subject selection is cumbersome. It is impossible to accurately identify the origin of these thoughts and how long they took to manifest (Hom et al., 2017). Therefore, there would arise discrepancies within the study affecting the obtained results.

All parties involved in a research study should expect to gain from it. The study should also not pose significant harm to either party. Suicide research is exponentially sensitive, owing to its iatrogenic potential (Nugent et al., 2019). Often, people who question subjects on suicide will cause suicidal thoughts to manifest in them. People would avoid participating in these types of studies because they believe that their interrogative component will worsen their mental health, causing substantial barriers to the approval of suicide-related studies (Nugent et al., 2019). Setting up and getting suicide-related research approved will therefore be difficult.

No one should be forced to participate in a research study. The participants of any research study should be in a position to provide informed consent. The process, benefits, and outcomes should be clear. Suicidal individuals are often classified as ‘vulnerable’ by social instinct (Hom et al., 2017). Thus, a subject’s decision on participation is questioned; whether they were willing or their illness clouded their judgment. Suicide ideation is not quantifiable, meaning a participant can have more one day and less another (Hom et al., 2017). Therefore, researchers are left unsure of the participant’s validity of consent. Consequently, it would be more effective if suicidality studies asked for usual consent from the subjects to ensure that they are still willing to participate as the research progresses.

Finally, respect for potential and enrolled subjects is mandatory and is a proper study protocol. The researchers must ensure that everyone participates by choice and that their wishes be honored (Hom et al., 2017). Research into the interception of suicidal thoughts would involve the subjects telling rather intricate stories about themselves. Some may evade answering a specific question or answer very vaguely (Nugent et al., 2019). The researcher is thus burdened with the duty of identifying whether or not to reiterate the question or if this prying results in a somewhat inaccurate answer. Moreover, these inaccuracies are challenging for the researcher to identify. With suicidality research, it can be challenging to convey loyalty to both the study and the subject.

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Given the cost of human life, it is necessary to cultivate an ethical imperative in suicide research. Suicidality research brings some ethical issues but potentially positive results, such as lowering suicide rates and improving mental health. Researchers should also find and enhance cognitive health-related research methods to optimize the results and the subjects’ experience. Indeed, research serves as a portal for the advancement of society through the use of knowledge.


Hom, M., Podlogar, M., Stanley, I., & Joiner, T. (2017). Ethical issues and practical challenges in suicide research. Crisis, 38(2), 107-114. Web.

Nugent, A., Ballard, E., Park, L., & Zarate, C. (2019). Research on the pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention of suicide: practical and ethical issues. BMC Psychiatry, 19(1), 332. Web.

Sisti, D., & Joffe, S. (2018). Implications of zero suicide for suicide prevention research. JAMA, 320(16), 1633. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022, July 19). Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, July 19). Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research.

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NursingBird. 2022. "Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research." July 19, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research." July 19, 2022.


NursingBird. "Ethical Issues in Teenage Suicide Research." July 19, 2022.