This survey is the first UK study of trainee psychiatrists' experiences of patient suicide. One hundred and three senior and specialist registrars in psychiatry working in Scotland completed the questionnaire, representing an 81% response rate.
Almost half (47%) had experienced suicide of a patient in their care or otherwise known to them (e.g. through on-call experiences). Although only 28% recalled previous training on issues to consider following a suicide, all of these doctors found this to be of value. Many reported that patient suicide had a deleterious impact on their personal and professional lives. The most valuable supports were informal, and the trainees' consultants appeared particularly well placed to offer support and advice.
Many trainee psychiatrists experience the suicide of a patient. Such experiences have potential for adverse effects on doctors' professional practice and personal life. Greater availability of training in this area would allow trainees to be better prepared for such an event. Trainees' consultants have a pivotal role to play in providing appropriate advice and support after a patient suicide.
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