What do we teach psychiatric residents about suicide? A national survey of chief residents

Acad Psychiatry. 2009 Jan-Feb;33(1):47-50. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.33.1.47.


Objective: Because of the clinical significance of patient suicide for trainees and current limited information on this essential educational subject, the authors sought to determine what topics involving the care of suicidal patients were taught to residents in psychiatry training programs.

Methods: Chief residents of psychiatry training programs across the United States (response rate 59%) anonymously completed questions on what and how the care of suicidal patients was taught. Topics that required more attention and barriers to teaching were also identified.

Results: A vast majority of the national programs (91%) offered formal teaching on suicide care; grand rounds (85%) and case conferences (80%) were also popular methods for teaching. Even the topics most commonly taught, such as risk factors, recognizing early warning signs, and standards of clinical care, were judged to warrant more attention by many residents. Commonly identified barriers to teaching included the lack of audio or video teaching materials and relevant texts. Only 19% of chief residents reported that they felt prepared for the possibility of having to manage the aftermath of a patient suicide.

Conclusion: The chief residents identified a need for programs to focus even more attention on teaching of the care of suicidal patients in training programs.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Risk Management
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Suicide* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States