Mental Health and Social Care Professionals After a Patient Suicide: Interrelation Between Support Needed, Sought, and Received.

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This article investigates the support needed, sought, and received by professionals following a patient suicide. A self-administered questionnaire about the consequences of patient suicide and support issues was completed by 704 professionals. Profiles of support were defined using a 3-dimensional, 8-fold typology based on need for, search for, and sufficiency of support. Stress reactions, professionals' characteristics, relationship with the patient, training, and providers of support were used to characterize the profiles. Most professionals acknowledged receiving sufficient support to manage the aftermath of patient suicide. Almost two thirds of the respondents who received sufficient support reported either not needing or seeking support or both needing and seeking support. Almost 1 in 10 respondents who reported needing and seeking support received insufficient support. Stress reactions were highest among professionals who needed but did not receive sufficient support. Professionals who did not need or seek support were less often in a relationship with the patient at the time of the suicide and less frequently felt close to or responsible for the patient than those who needed and sought support. Trained professionals were overrepresented among those who reported receiving sufficient support while they were less likely to report needing and seeking support or receiving insufficient support. Findings concerning support and its relationship to risk and protective factors suggest the need to adopt a multidimensional approach that distinguishes among support needed, sought, and received. Although an association may exist between perceived stress and need for support, involvement of professionals in the patient relationship may also be linked with the search for support, while training may be associated with receipt of sufficient support.


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