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NEWS: Advice after death by suicide of primary care staff

by in GP Practice Management, News, Staff

A new report offers a framework to support primary care organisations following the death by suicide of a colleague.

It was released yesterday (29 September) by the Society of Occupational Medicine, who created it together with the Louise Tebboth Foundation, which supports the mental wellbeing of doctors. The report, ‘Responding to the death by suicide of a colleague in Primary Care: A postvention framework’, includes practical advice based on the experiences of individuals who have been in this situation.

Dr Alex Freeman of the Louise Tebboth Foundation says: “This new report describes the difficulties faced and presents a framework of actions. It highlights a number of challenges for those diverse organisations who commission, represent and support practices, and who should be in a position to assist, for both the short and long term.” She added that suicide ‘postvention’ guidelines include timely and appropriate support in place to help people and organisations recover.

Leading GP Dr Clare Gerada, who pioneered the development of support services for doctors, commented: “This is a timely addition to the support needed for health care staff and organisations when one of their colleagues takes their own life. The document provides an excellent step by step guide as to what to do if this rare but traumatic event happens to a member of staff at work. A vital piece of work and I congratulate the authors.”

The report recommends that this document is disseminated widely in primary care and available when needed. It covers areas such as breaking the news to colleagues and patients, managing possible responses by colleagues and patients, and the need for ongoing monitoring of wellbeing.

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