Losing Patients To Suicide

Sulome Anderson covers the subject:

According to many doctors I spoke with, there is also a severe lack of training for mental health professionals—not only on how to deal with suicidal patients, but how to process a patient’s death. Dr. Paul Quinett, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is heavily involved in teaching clinicians how to do both. “I think most of us believe that when we hire a licensed mental-health professional, that they’ve had training in how to assess and manage suicidal patients, when in fact, the majority do not,” he says.

I mention a survey where a group of doctors and nurses were asked if they think it’s possible to prevent someone from committing suicide. More than half answered that they didn’t think it was. “Well, I don’t believe that,” he says firmly. “I believe that’s a convenient myth … but so many clinicians are not well-prepared for that outcome. There are lots of clinicians who lose patients to suicide in the course of their career … in a way it’s almost an occupational hazard. That’s why people need the very best training they can get, to learn how to work effectively with people considering ending their own lives.”