Encountering Patient Suicide: A Resident’s Experience
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- Fang, F., Kemp, J., Jawandha, A. et al. Acad Psychiatry (2007) 31: 340. doi:10.1176/appi.ap.31.5.340
The authors reviewed the current literature for psychiatry residents’ reactions to the suicide of a patient. This review also examines the responses of training programs to residents after such an incident.
Using Ovid Medline, the authors conducted a review of the scientific literature from 1966 to 2006, with search phrases consisting of: “patient suicide,” “residency training programs,” “psychiatry residents,” and “therapists-in-training.”
There are a limited number of studies exploring residents’ experiences following a patient suicide. Furthermore, only two studies examined the supportive measures that U.S. psychiatry training programs provide for residents afterwards. The few studies published suggest that the suicide of a patient is quite common during training and that residents undergo significant levels of psychological stress. Residency programs have yet to establish formal training and support systems to help trainees deal with these stressors.
The findings from this review support further investigation into the effects of patient suicide on residents and the implementation of formal supports within psychiatry training.