Many interesting articles about suicide have been published during August 2019 on different scientific journals. We talked about high risk of suicide in medical doctors, trainees and specialists, and recently the topic is highlited in many international journals (our previous articles: Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #28; Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #22; #CrazySocks4Docs).
“Effects of suicide on psychiatry trainees”, published on the BJPsych Bullettin by M.Calcia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6642985/) examines the need to support clinicians who deal with suicidal patients, referring to a survey by Gibbons et al. (Gibbons R, Brand F, Carbonnier A, Croft A. Effects of patient suicide on psychiatrists: survey of experiences and support required. BJPsych Bull 2019; doi: 10.1192/bjb.2019.26.). “…having experienced a patient suicide as a trainee had a significant influence on the responder’s choice of subspecialty… we hope that mental health trusts and postgraduate training departments continue working to develop formal and informal support structures for doctors experiencing this difficult event”.
Young doctors are often well trained and skilled in managing organic conditions, but they may have received less training and education in the management of suicidal patients, and may find it difficult to treat them.
The Journal of Adolescent Health recently published a paper “A Call to Reorient Pediatric Residency Education to Address the Emerging Threat of Suicide”, by M. Townsend Cooper Jr., (https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(19)30235-6/fulltext) stressing the importance of training pediatric residents to approach suicidality: “As a pediatric community, we are woefully unprepared for this unfolding epidemic”. The article by Schoen et al., Suicide Risk Assessment and Management Training Practices in Pediatric Residency Programs: A Nationwide Needs Assessment Survey (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31129034), has highlighted a gap in residents’ training needs that calls for immediate attention: “Although 82% of respondents rated suicide prevention training in residency as “very” or “extremely” important, a minority (18% PDs and 10% CRs) reported adequate preparation relative to need”.
The most common barrier mentioned to deliver appropriate training about this topic was lack of time:
“How do we as a medical community not have time to treat an epidemic that is staring us squarely in the face? Would we accept a similar excuse from ourselves if this was a threat from an infectious disease?”.
Academic Psychiatry published the article “Preclinical Medical Student Attitudes Toward Use of Psychiatry Residents as Actors in a Suicide and Violence Risk Assessment Simulation Activity” (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40596-019-01039-5) stressing the importance of medical students training in suicide prevention “to transform classroom knowledge into clinical skills”; simulation was suggested as a good practice for learning, as it gives students the possibility to get involved in situations resembling clinical practice.