Grieving parents at higher suicide risk
Mar 19, 2006 - 8:11:37 PM

Bereaved parents who have cared for their dying child could be at higher risk of suicide and need care, according to research. Little research has been done on suicide rates for such parents, according to two papers published in this week's British Medical Journal.

There is substantial evidence that parents who have lost a child suffer deeper and more long-lasting grief than others suffering bereavements, it said.

Parents are at heightened suicide risk especially in the month following the death of their young child, it said.

Recent advances in caring for the terminally ill - palliative care - mean that more and more of these patients are being cared for at home. After the loved one has died, parents or other carers are encouraged to return any unused morphine or other painkillers (opioids) to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

But despite the best efforts of medical staff, this may not happen - resulting in powerful drugs being left in the hands of grieving loved ones.

Looking after the carer before, during and in the aftermath of death is essential. Much more research is needed on how these families can best be supported at this difficult time, authors of the study conclude.

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