Evidence-Based Reviews

Losing a patient to suicide: Navigating the aftermath

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Because a suicide loss is likely to affect a clinician’s subsequent clinical activity, Schultz encourages supervisors to help clinicians monitor this impact on their work.14

A supportive environment is key

Losing a patient to suicide is a complicated, potentially traumatic process that many mental health clinicians will face. Yet with comprehensive and supportive postvention policies in place, clinicians who are impacted are more likely to experience healing and posttraumatic growth in both personal and professional domains.

Bottom Line

Although often traumatic, losing a patient to suicide presents clinicians with an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Following established postvention protocols can help ensure that legal, institutional, and administrative needs are balanced with the emotional needs of affected clinicians and staff, as well as those of the surviving family.

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