Thankfully, there is a comprehensive resource available for clinicians who lose a client to suicide, the Clinician Survivor Task Force website,2 maintained by John McIntosh for the American Association of Suicidology. The task force provides ...
... consultation, support and education to psychotherapists and other mental health professionals to assist them in understanding and responding to their personal/professional loss resulting from the suicide death of a patient/client and/or family member.
"Not only did it [my brother's suicide] impact me personally ... but it also impacted my professional work, both in terms of my professional identity, my whole sense of professional responsibility, all of the assumptions about -- that I who couldn't save my own brother was supposed to be caring for people who were coming to see me because they were in distress ... It had really impacted the way I was responding clinically to my clients, and this sort of blindsided me ... It's such a stigmatized loss, and I was loathe to disclose it to my colleagues.Eventually, Gutin researched and wrote on the topic and started to speak at professional conferences about "how the loss of my brother had impacted me professionally and clinically."
"And lo and behold, people came out of he woodwork and said, 'Thank you for talking about it. This has been very similar to my experience.'"
The task force's website offers many resources for clinician survivors, including personal accounts of clinicians who have lost a client to suicide and a list of clinicians who have had experience with suicide loss and are willing to be contacted directly. There are also a bibliography and annotated references on the subject, as well as a very helpful set of guidelines (download) for responding to a patient's suicide and a summary of a book chapter (download) covering protocols for clinician supervisors and trainees.1 "Suicide Bereavement Personal Meanings" is an interactive workshop designed to provide a safe environment where people bereaved by suicide have support from their peers and can constructively reflect on the impact the death has had on their lives. Please contact Franklin Cook for information about workshops, training, and keynote addresses.
2 The Clinician Survivor Task Force website is among the resources featured in the Guidance for Caregivers section of the the Suicide Grief Support Quick Reference (see sg.sg/griefreference).