Indian Journal of Private Psychiatry

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VOLUME 15 , ISSUE 1 ( January-June, 2021 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

An Analysis of Psychiatrists, Their Patients’ Suicides, and Aftermath

Gopala S Poduri

Keywords : Effect, Patient suicide, Personal, Professional, Psychiatrist

Citation Information : Poduri GS. An Analysis of Psychiatrists, Their Patients’ Suicides, and Aftermath. Ind J Priv Psychiatry 2021; 15 (1):27-31.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10067-0079

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 14-10-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Background: Suicides among psychiatric patients are common. Most of the psychiatrists during their professional life will see at least one patient of theirs committing suicide. It can have distressing effects on them. Aim and objective: To find the personal and professional details of psychiatrists, suicides of patients under their care, and their effects. Design: Contacting randomized representative sample of psychiatrists active in clinical patient care by online and offline communication methods. Participants: Representative sample of 143 psychiatric postgraduates (PGs) and psychiatrists in India, who are in active practice of the profession. Main outcome measures: Personal and professional details of psychiatrists, and details of the suicide of the patient under their care, effects, and coping mechanisms. Results: Out of a total of 143 responses—62% of male and 38% of female—29.4% of responders reported at least one patient under their treatment committing suicide, with an average of 12.8% of suicides for psychiatrists having such experience. Senior psychiatrists were overrepresented by age-wise and experience-wise. The commonest diagnosis was depression, and the method adopted was hanging. Suicide of the patient under treatment affected 40.5% of treating psychiatrists in both personal and professional life. And 26.2% had no impact on either personal or professional life; 33.3% of responders reported that the suicide of the patient had an impact on either personal or professional life. Most of them felt the suicide was predictable, preventable, and the training they had was adequate. More than half were apprehensive about litigation. Due to the suicide of patients, six psychiatrists considered taking early retirement. Conclusion: There is a need for preparing newer and younger psychiatrists to face the ordeal of the patient under treatment committing suicide.

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