chapter  6
42 Pages


When working with suicidal patients, the mental health professional is held to a standard of care that says he or she has acquired the appropriate clinical and legal education to perform such a function. Mental health professionals

cannot claim lack of training as a defense for negligent actions because a court may claim they "should have known." The appropriate education implies competence (Barron, 1987). Clinicians rank working with suicidal patients as the most stressful aspect of their work (Deutsch, 1984):

Losing a patient to suicide is so personally and professionally impactful , that almost half of the psychologists who lost a patient reported intrusive symptoms of stress in the weeks that followed the suicide .,. stress comparable to individuals who had suffered the death of a close family member .. .. Patient suicide should be acknowledged as an occupational hazard for psychologists, not only because of its frequency but also because of its impact on psychologists' professional and personal lives . .. . Training programs do not currently have established protocols for helping trainees to deal with the aftermath of a patient's suicide; therefore, trainees and their supervisors are left to their own devices (pp. 419-420).