Project title

Clinician bereavement study: Survey of the effects of patient suicide on clinicians




Mental health professionals can typically expect to experience the death of a patient by suicide between once and four times during their professional career. Each death can have a profound effect on clinicians, including burnout, mental health problems, not progressing with training, and, for some, leaving the mental health sector altogether.

Each year in the UK, there are approximately 1,600 suicide deaths by patients with mental illness (defined as people in contact with mental health services within 12 months of suicide). This equates to at least 1,600 healthcare professionals being impacted by the death. The effects may vary between clinicians and be intensified by incident reviews and coroner investigations. In many organisations, there is little or no support, despite evidence that effective support can mitigate the damaging personal and clinical effects, enhance resilience, and facilitate reflection and post-traumatic growth.


To help understand these experiences more, the study will use a methodology established by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health in collaboration with experts from the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University and the Royal College of Psychiatrists to:

  • examine the impact of patient suicide on the emotional wellbeing and clinical practice of clinicians
  • map wanted and available resources for clinicians before and after the suicide of a patient
  • make recommendations on how to develop support services locally and nationally for clinicians.


By establishing a greater understanding of the experiences of mental health clinicians, when it comes to wellbeing and clinical practice following a patient’s death by suicide, we can help develop local and national support resources for when such an event occurs.