A survey of 89 psychiatric trainees in a regional rotational training scheme was carried out to investigate the impact immediately after a patient's suicide and at the time of the study. Main outcome measures used were the Impact of Events Scale and a rating scale of the impact on personal and professional life.
Twenty-three trainees out of 53 who returned questionnaires reported at least one suicide. Initial reactions included shock, self-blame, guilt, grief and fear of negligence. Impact on personal and professional life was moderately severe. Over half of the trainees were ‘clinically stressed’ in the immediate aftermath, with no statistically significant reduction overtime.
The impact of a patient suicide can be profound. It can be experienced as a stressful event but can also lead to positive changes in clinical practice. Greater availability of training and support as well as further research in this area are recommended.
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