"The sad loss of patients to suicide can understandably have severe emotional and psychological effects on staff. A group of senior clinicians (psychiatrists, nurses and clinical psychologists), most of whom work in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, formed a working party associated with the Centre for Suicide Research to investigate the impact on clinical staff of loss of patients to suicide. We have produced this new resource for psychiatrists who experience the death of a patient by suicide. The resource is partly based on findings of a survey of doctors about their experiences, which was carried out because of concerns about the considerable impacts loss of patients to suicide can have on psychiatrists. We are in the process of also developing a resource for other mental health staff, again based on findings of a survey of experiences."
If a patient dies by suicide: A Resource for Psychiatrists, has been produced to support psychiatrists at all stages of their career, from trainees to experienced consultants. Its purpose is to provide information about a difficult topic that psychiatrists often avoid discussing, to reduce a sense of isolation, and to recommend helpful resources for those psychiatrists who have this experience.
The guide was developed following a survey of psychiatrists who had experienced the death of a patient by suicide (Gibbons et al. 2019), from a review of the limited research literature in this area and from personal experiences.
We hope that this booklet will prove helpful for psychiatrists in the aftermath of patient suicide and for those who haven’t faced such a loss, including trainees, to help them cope should this happen in future.
Professor Keith Hawton.