Facing a patient who seeks help after a suicide attempt: The difficulties of health professionals
Rothes, I.A., Henriques, M.R., Leal, J.B., & Lemos, M.S.
Background: Although intervention with suicidal patients is one of the hardest tasks in clinical practice, little is known about health professionals' perceptions about the difficulties of working with suicidal patients. Aims: The aims of this study were to: (1) describe the difficulties of professionals facing a suicidal patient; (2) analyze the differences in difficulties according to the sociodemographic and professional characteristics of the health professionals; and (3) identify the health professionals' perceived skills and thoughts on the need for training in suicide. Method: A self-report questionnaire developed for this purpose was filled out by 196 health professionals. Exploratory principal components analyses were used. Results: Four factors were found: technical difficulties; emotional difficulties; relational and communicational difficulties; and family-approaching and logistic difficulties. Differences were found between professionals who had or did not have training in suicide, between professional groups, and between the number of patient suicide attempts. Sixty percent of the participants reported a personal need for training and 85% thought it was fundamental to implement training plans targeted at health professionals. Conclusion: Specific training is fundamental. Experiential and active methodologies should be used and technical, relational, and emotional questions must be included in the training syllabus.