Patient suicide is a relatively common event: 50–70% of consultant psychiatrists and 40–50% of psychiatric trainees have experienced at least one patient suicide. Patient suicide can have significant personal and professional effects on psychiatrists, including increased stress, social withdrawal, disruption to relationships, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and consideration of early retirement. Following patient suicide, psychiatrists derive most support from informal contacts with team members, family and friends; additional support may be available through formal support structures or local team initiatives. It is important to place appropriate emphasis on the effects of patient suicide in psychiatry training programmes; to maintain awareness of the importance of informal supports following patient suicide; to strengthen formal systems of support; to identify other potential forms of assistance (e.g. spiritual support); and to develop local team initiatives in this area.
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