chapter  14
16 Pages

Essential Clinical and Legal Issues when Working with the Suicidal Patient

The average professional psychologist involved in direct patient care has a greater than 20% chance of losing a patient to suicide at some time during his or her professional career, with the odds being greater than 50% for psychiatrists (Chemtob, Hamada, Bauer, Kinney, & Torigoe, 1988; Chemtob, Hamada, Bauer, Torigoe, & Kinney, 1988). Because a patient’s committing suicide is not a rare event in psychological practice, it must be considered a real occupational hazard for those clinicians involved in direct patient care (Chemtob, Hamada, Bauer, Torigoe, & Kinney, 1988). This hazard encompasses not only the threat of malpractice action, but also the intense emotional toll that a patient’s suicide can take on the survivors (including the clinician).