Health professionals require formal suicide bereavement training to better manage familial relations following patient suicide, new data suggest.

Understanding how to address bereavement by suicide is a critical aspect of patient care, however little is known about how general practitioners contribute to familial support and how it affects their work.

In this study, Emily Foggin, MBChB, MPH, of Oxford University Hospitals in Oxford, England, and colleagues interviewed 13 general practitioners in the United Kingdom to better understand how they deal with parent bereavement by suicide.

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The interviews revealed that physicians exhibited a low degree of confidence in their abilities to deal with patient suicide and the resulting interactions with kin. Feelings of guilt, uncertainty, and reluctance for initiating contact with bereaved kin were expressed, as well as a need for personal and familial support services and supervision.

Overall, the study identified a need for formal support and supervision not just for bereaved kin, but also physicians. The study authors hope that the results will help to inform the development of suicide bereavement training for health care professionals.

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Foggin E, Mcdonnell S, Cordingley L, Kapur N, Shaw J, Chew-graham CA. GPs’ experiences of dealing with parents bereaved by suicide: a qualitative study. Br J Gen Pract. 2016 Aug 16; doi:10.3399/bjgp16X686605.