Patients' suicides: frequency and impact on psychiatrists

Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Feb;145(2):224-8. doi: 10.1176/ajp.145.2.224.


Results of a national survey of randomly selected psychiatrists revealed that 51% (N = 131) of the 259 respondents had had a patient who committed suicide. This event had an impact on both their personal and their professional lives. Sixty-five psychiatrists reported stress levels in the weeks following the suicide that were comparable to levels reported in studies of people seeking treatment after the death of a parent. Younger, less-experienced clinicians were more affected by a patient's suicide than older clinicians with more experience. Implications of these results for the training and practice of psychiatrists are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychiatry* / education
  • Suicide / epidemiology
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires