To study the effects of patient suicide on both personal and professional life of consultant psychiatrists in Ireland. A questionnaire was sent to all practising consultants.
Most respondents (80%) had experienced patient suicide in their careers; in up to 97% it had an impact on either their professional or personal life. The most common effects were preoccupation with the suicide and guilt. Unpredicted suicides and perceived effect on patients' families worsened the distress. Informal support was of most help, with a large proportion of study participants suggesting independent case review would be helpful.
Patient suicide is an almost universally distressing event for psychiatrists. Although consultants receive psychological support from family and friends, many would also welcome an objective professional review.
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