Clinicians’ negative emotional responses to suicidal patients are predictive of near-term suicidality. This study aimed to explore the underlying pathway of this association by investigating the potential relationship between clinicians’ emotional responses and the Narrative Crisis Model of suicide, which comprises long-term risk factors (LTRF) of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, Suicidal Narrative, and the Suicide Crisis Syndrome (SCS), a presuicidal affective state.
One thousand and One patient participants and 169 clinician participants were recruited. Patients’ Suicidal Narrative, SCS, and LTRF were assessed at intake using the Suicidal Narrative Inventory (SNI), the Suicide Crisis Inventory, and a composite score of three separate scales, respectively. Clinicians’ emotional responses were measured immediately after patient intake using the Therapist Response Questionnaire-Suicide Form (TRQ-SF).
Multilevel regression analyses, which controlled for clinician differences, found that only patients’ SNI total score and perceived burdensomeness subscale score were significantly associated with clinicians’ TRQ-SF total score. Furthermore, a higher SNI total score was significantly related to higher distress and lower affiliation scores among clinicians.
Clinicians appear to respond emotionally to patients’ Suicidal Narrative, and thus, future investigation of Suicidal Narrative and its potential to improve imminent suicide risk assessment is warranted.