The study investigated the personal impact of patient suicides on the members of community mental health teams and the sources of support utilised for coping with adverse effects.
Forty-four questionnaires were returned. Eighty-six per cent of staff reported having had at least one patient suicide, with an average of 4.2 suicides. The majority of staff reported that patient suicides had significant adverse effects on their personal and professional lives. Some of the effects were long-lasting (greater than 1 month). Staff found that peer support, reviews, dedicated staff meetings and support from senior colleagues were of most value.
Staff require skilled and dedicated support following a patient suicide in order to minimise its detrimental effects on personal, professional and team functioning.
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