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Exploring the Impact of Suicide on Clinicians: A Multidisciplinary Retreat Model

FIGUEROA, SARA MD; DALACK, GREGORY W. MD

Journal of Psychiatric Practice: January 2013 - Volume 19 - Issue 1 - p 72–77
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000426330.41773.15
Practitioner's Corner

Objective. We developed an every other year, scheduled retreat model for clinicians and trainees to explore emotional and professional reactions that they may face after a patient’s suicide. Methods. Psychiatry ambulatory clinical staff, residents, and faculty participated in a halfday retreat, which consisted of an opening panel discussion, in which panel members related their experiences of patient suicide, break out groups, and a final panel discussion. Unlinked preand post-retreat surveys were electronically sent to all potential participants. Results. The pre-retreat survey was completed by 103 clinicians; 20% of the respondents were trainees or fellows, and 47% reported that they had experienced a patient suicide. Text responses to the pre-retreat survey reflected the wish to obtain a better understanding of the impact of patient suicide on caregivers, to cope with the event from a personal and professional standpoint, and to get a clearer understanding of what supports are available within the department. The post-retreat survey was completed by 45 clinicians. Comments after the retreat reflected an increased awareness of both shortand long-term effects on clinicians after a patient suicide and the extensive impact that a patient suicide can have on providers within their ambulatory care department. Conclusion. An alldepartment ambulatory retreat model has value in providing clinicians with support and information in a structured, educational setting to help reduce the sense of stigma and provide an increased awareness of the magnitude of the impact on clinicians who experience the death of a patient by suicide.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

The authors express their thanks to Drs. Mary Blazek and Kristen Barry for their review of early drafts of the manuscript and to all of the members of the planning and panel groups who helped to make this retreat possible.

Please send correspondence to: Sara Figueroa, MD, University of Michigan, Department of Psychiatry, 4250 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105. gsrd@med.umich.edu.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.