Year: 2021 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2021). 25(4), 862-875. SIEC No: 20210909

A key element of suicide education, training and clinical supervision is enhancing emotional awareness about mental health professionals’ countertransference reactions, as emotional responses to patients’ suicidal behavior (SB) that may be unbeneficial to care. This study aimed to explore emotional responses to patients’ SB in mental health nurses (MHNs) according to a psychodynamic perspective. Twenty-eight Italian MHNs (61% females, Mage = 52 years) were interviewed to examine their deep feelings about attempted suicides or deaths by suicide of patients with mental illness. Computer-aided thematic analysis was performed on the verbatim transcribed interviews, adopting Emotional Text Analysis (ETA) as a research framework to explore affective symbolizations underlying narratives, beyond intentional and explicitly reported contents. Some statistical multidimensional techniques were carried out, allowing th.e detection of shared symbolic domains (Cluster Analysis) and latent factors organizing the contraposition between them (Multiple Correspondence Analysis). Five symbolic domains emerged which were respectively referred to as: hyper-vigilance (21.97% of the overall textual corpus), resentment (17.86%), rationalization (34.50%), resignation (5.54%) and mourning (20.12%). Four latent factors explained the overall data variance: strive for reparation (F1), lack of control (F2), ambivalence toward care (F3) and complicated grief (F4). Some clinical recommendations were derived suggesting to balance issues of risk assessment/management and staff’s reflective practice, to work on the subjective sense of hopelessness resulting from turning against oneself the hostility evoked by patients, to consider rationalization processes and implicit beliefs leading to risk underestimation and to address some basic conflicts contributing to a complicated grief in mourning suicidal events.