Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

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lingua_franca
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Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by lingua_franca » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:36 am

Recently I discovered that a young person I supported in a CAMHS inpatient ward died by suicide. Even though it's been a while since I saw this young person, they made a big impression on me, and from time to time I've wondered how they were getting on. I was there on the day they were discharged, and they were shining as they left - there is no other word for it. They were so enthusiastic about going home, and they'd made so much progress. I was sure they'd be fine in the long run. The news of their death has come as quite a shock to me - more than I would have expected, as it's been some time since I saw them. But this is the first time a person whom I worked with closely has taken their own life. More than that, I felt that I learnt such a lot from this particular child (especially about how to build a good rapport in difficult circumstances) and on a personal level I was inspired by their resilience - they're among the most memorable people I've ever worked with, and this ending seems so cruel and...wrong. (I'm shaken up and not at my most eloquent here!) I don't really know what I'm asking, or what kind of advice I'd expect. I would just be interested to hear how others have felt in the aftermath of a patient's suicide, and how you dealt with it.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Victoriomantic
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Re: Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by Victoriomantic » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:44 pm

Hi Lingua,

I'm sorry to hear of this loss. I'll send you a pm. x

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miriam
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Re: Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by miriam » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:26 am

I'm sorry for your loss. Grieving is really normal when you've formed a relationship with someone, and it is normal and human to feel sad that your optimistic picture wasn't sustained into a happily ever after. I've also had a client die unexpectedly, in my case via an RTA rather than by suicide (but in circumstances where that was avoidable if different care decisions were made), so I've also had those feelings of anger and sadness, and a sense of failure that I couldn't have prevented what happened. I took some comfort in what my supervisor told me - he said I only had four hours with the child, but given that small ration of time the kid would have experienced me as someone who genuinely cared about them, which is the best I could have given them. It sounds like the same was very much true for you.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

lingua_franca
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:30 pm

Thank you both. At first it felt as if I had no real right to grieve - I'm not part of this child's family, I'm not a friend of theirs, and I haven't even seen the child in a few years - and I've also been wondering where it all went wrong, and if things could have been handled differently. I'm trying to comfort myself by remembering that it's as Miriam said: when this young person was in the unit we did the best we could, and I know they felt listened to and believed when they were in our care.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

Misfit
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Re: Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by Misfit » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:36 pm

lingua_franca wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:30 pm
Thank you both. At first it felt as if I had no real right to grieve - I'm not part of this child's family, I'm not a friend of theirs, and I haven't even seen the child in a few years - and I've also been wondering where it all went wrong, and if things could have been handled differently. I'm trying to comfort myself by remembering that it's as Miriam said: when this young person was in the unit we did the best we could, and I know they felt listened to and believed when they were in our care.
You have every right to grieve. I am sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you. Best wishes x

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Victoriomantic
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Re: Coping with news of a former patient's suicide

Post by Victoriomantic » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:12 am

You definitely have the right to grieve... however you're feeling, you have the right to feel. Any loss is hard, particularly a loss by suicide. I am glad that you are trying to comfort yourself. If they left the unit happy then you definitely all did a great job xx

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