Year: 2023 Source: Crisis. (2019). 40(6), 429–436. SIEC No: 20231498
Background: A substantial number of people with cancer endorse suicidality when compared with the general population. Thus, oncology healthcare workers may experience the death of a patient to suicide over their careers. Aims: To explore the impact of patients' mental health distress and suicidality on oncology personnel with a secondary aim of exploring how personnel cope with these types of events. Method: We interviewed 61 healthcare professionals (HCPs) at two cancer centers. The grounded theory method (GT) was used. Results: The impact of patients' mental health distress and suicidal ideation on oncology HCPs included sadness, depression, worry and concern, and feeling emotionally overwhelmed. The impact of patient suicide on HCPs included trauma, guilt, and surprise. Oncology personnel reported a change in practice, including communication style, being attuned to patient cues, and changing the physical environment. Coping strategies included colleague support, seeking professional help, and setting boundaries between their work and home life. Limitations: It is likely that HCPs who participated in the study represent those who are more willing to discuss issues related to suicide. Thus, the impact of patient suicide on healthcare providers may be even more pronounced among the general oncology HCP community. Conclusion: Given the higher risk of suicide among cancer patients, it is necessary to increase awareness about the impact these events may have on HCPs. Professional guidelines can highlight the need for a balance between ensuring the availability of informal support and more formal methods of help.