Erikson Institute

Responding to Clinicians After Loss of a Patient to Suicide

Plakun, Eric M.
Tillman, Jane G.
Published on 
October 2005

When a patient commits suicide, the emotional impact on all concerned, including his/her psychiatrist can be devastating. The four main causes of distress include concern about failure to hospitalize a suicidal patient, concern about a specific treatment decision, disapproval and criticism by the members of the therapist’s institution, and fear of a lawsuit. The authors offer a number of suggestions to help manage these feelings constructively, as well as guidelines for interacting with the deceased patient’s family.

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