Self-perceived Difficulties With Suicidal Patients in A Sample of Italian General Practitioners

Stefano Zanone Poma, Antonello Grossi, Emanuele Toniolo, Vincenzo Baldo, Diego De Leo


Background: Suicidal behaviours are relatively common among primary care patients, but suicide ideation seems to be poorly detected by GPs. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the frequency of issues related to suicidal behaviour in GPs setting and to inquire the level of difficulties perceived by physicians when dealing with suicidal patients.

Methods: A survey on 88 GPs in Rovigo (Italy) has been conducted through the use of a self-administered questionnaire inquiring about suicidal behaviour in patients, personal history and outside professional lives.

Results: Four out of 5 doctors have encountered at least a case of suicide in their professional career, and 3 out of 4 recorded at least a case of suicide attempt in a working year. The frequency of personal history of suicidal ideation/behaviour was 2.3%. One third of GPs have come into contact with suicides or suicide attempts outside the professional setting. Sixty one per cent of doctors admitted difficulties in exploring suicidal ideation, but tended to ascribe it to a reluctant attitude of patients.

Conclusions: The study underscores Gs need of being helped in the difficult task of recognising suicidal patients.



General practitioner; Suicide ideation; Suicide; Suicide attempt

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