Supporting staff following a patient-perpetrated homicide (PPH)

A prevention and postvention framework

CR239, June 2024

When a patient under mental health services commits a homicide there are significant impacts across a range of people and organisations, particularly the families of the victims. It is important that all of those affected have access to the support they need. 

Psychiatrists treating the patients can themselves experience a range of responses, including immense sadness and guilt. It is important that they too have access to support through their employing organisations and other networks. 

In this Report, national guidance on how to provide this is being put forward for the first time. We call upon mental health services to draw upon it in setting up support mechanisms for their staff in circumstances such as this.

It is not only the right thing to do in the context of safeguarding the well-being of the psychiatrist but in the longer term means that the clinician is more likely to stay in clinical practice as well as help with any learning from the incident by being able to participate effectively in any subsequent investigations or inquiries.

At the same time, we are publishing a booklet aimed at psychiatrists themselves which seeks to support them when a patient commits a homicide, providing ways in which they can both help themselves and also reach out for help.

We believe it can make a positive contribution to an issue which is by its nature tragic and sad.

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