Why We Need to Enhance Suicide Postvention: Evaluating a Survey of Psychiatrists’ Behaviors after the Suicide of a Patient

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Abstract

Suicide prevention efforts are increasing to enhance capabilities and better understand risk factors and etiologies. Postvention, or how clinicians manage the postsuicide aftermath, strengthens suicide prevention, destigmatizes the tragedy, operationalizes the confusing aftermath, and promotes caregiver recovery. However, studies regarding its efficacy are minimal. The Psychopathology Committee of the Group for the Advancement for Psychiatry surveyed a convenience sample of psychiatrists to better understand postvention activities. Ninety psychiatrists completed the survey; they were predominantly men (72%) with an average of 24.6 years of experience (SD, 16.7 years). Most had contact with the patient's family within 6 months of the suicide, and most psychiatrists sought some form of support. Few psychiatrists used a suicide postvention procedure or toolkit (9%). No psychiatrists stopped clinical practice after a patient suicide, although 10% stopped accepting patients they deemed at risk of suicide. Postvention efforts, therefore, should be improved to better address survivor care.

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