Background: In our day to day clinical mental health practice, we make a number of
decisions for the patients in their best interest. We are accountable for our actions and
held responsible for the outcomes. Death of psychiatry patients both by suicide is a
serious incident that has significant impact on the mental health of the professionals.
The 21st Century is described as the era of human rights. The Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disability (CRPD) has given considerable rights to the mentally ill
patients. The States like Australia and NZ who are signatories for the CRPD, are bound
to honor the rights of people with mental disability. Where is the balance between
duty of care and the rights of the persons with mental disability? Where should the
accountability and responsibility of mental health professional end, when working in
human rights oriented services?
Objectives/ Methods: We bring an international human rights perspective that has
long lasting influence on national mental health strategy, mental health legislations
and mental health framework. We give some real life examples of patients completing
suicides, to illustrate these issues.
Findings: The international human rights perspective has addressed the issues
that mentally ill people experienced such as, inequality, discrimination, lack of
opportunity, and has moved clearly towards social inclusion and citizenship. However,
this has shifted the human rights balance towards patients autonomy, through
influencing mental health legislation and guardianship legislations. However, when
patients commit suicide there are a number of complex investigations, such as root
Cause Analysis, departmental level and many more ultimately leading to Coroner
investigation. The process is quite stressful for mental health professional and patients
family alike and cause symptoms suggestive of PTSD.
Conclusions: There is a fine balance between duty of care principle that mental health
professionals follows and human rights framework that the legal professional works
on. Anything said and done, the best interest of the patients counts. At the end, the
question remains: Who decides the best interest-lawyers and judges or mental health