Patient Suicide - reactions

TYPICAL REACTIONS TO PATIENT SUICIDE

Initial Reactions
Shock
Disbelief
Denial
Depersonalization

Second-phase Reactions
Grief
Shame
Guilt
Fear of blame
Anger
Relief
Finding of omens and subsequent behavioral changes
Conflicting feelings of specialness

[Adapted from Table 24-1 from Chapter 24: Psychiatrist Reactions to Patient Suicide by Dr. Michael Gitlin in Simon, RI and Hales, RE. Textbook of Suicide Assessment and Management. 2006. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC.]

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WAYS TO COPE

Below is a list of suggestions that have been helpful to prior residents after having a patient commit suicide.

Talk to people
- Co-residents (process group)
- Chief residents
- Training directors
- Attending Supervisors involved in case
- Attending Supervisors NOT involved in case
- Prior Attending Supervisors NOT involved in case
- Therapist
- Family
- Friends

Consider taking a day off of work at some point after the event to reflect

Read literature on suicide risk assessment
- Read literature on dealing with the death of a patient (see article by Gitlin).
- Consider giving a case conference on the topic
- Consider giving an APA workshop on the topic
- Consider writing a paper about your experience

Also, for other ideas, please refer to Table 24-3 (pg. 487) in Chapter 24: Psychiatrist Reactions to Patient Suicide by Dr. Michael Gitlin in Simon, RI and Hales, RE. Textbook of Suicide Assessment and Management. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC. 2006

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