Impact of Patient Suicide on Front-Line Staff in Ireland

HSE Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Drumalee Cross, Cavan, Ireland.
Death Studies (Impact Factor: 0.92). 09/2009; 33(7):639-56. DOI: 10.1080/07481180903011990
Source: PubMed


Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that coming to terms with the suicide of a patient can be extremely distressing for front-line professionals. Some research also suggests that exposure to such situations can undermine professionals' functioning and feelings of competence, cause them to question their professional standing and ultimately contribute to burnout. A survey of 447 front-line professionals' experiences of patient suicide was undertaken to further explore these issues. Thematic analysis of open-ended questionnaire items revealed that concerns for the bereaved family, feelings of responsibility for the death and having a close therapeutic relationship with the client are key factors that influence the adjustment and coping of a health professional in the aftermath of the death of a client by suicide. The results are discussed with a focus on the impact of suicide on front-line staff, the need for ongoing support and training and the development of specific post-suicide protocols.

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