I am struggling with this. One of our nurses committed suicide the other day. She worked her last shift with me in our fast track, we had a great day. We were giving each other crap, she told me we made a good team and she always liked working with me, which was true, we always got things done. But I never saw the signs. I've struggled with depression and suicidal ideation myself, so I know how easy it is to hide your pain, but I'm still beating myself up over this. She was one of the first nurses that made me feel welcome when I was a baby nurse five years ago. And all these years later praised my abilities as a nurse and told me all the time how I was such a great nurse. I tried to explain to my mother how I was feeling but I don't think she understood. My ER family is way more than a "work family" to me. We ARE family, bonded together in ways outsiders could never understand. There's no real point to this, I'm just trying to process this loss. Thanks for reading.
Last edit by Racer15 on Oct 4, '17
Oct 4, '17
I am so, so sorry for the loss of your friend and coworker. I have experienced this too, and I know it's easy to beat ourselves up and wonder what we could have done, how we missed it ... that answer is that it is NOT our fault. Ever. *hugs* This is going to be a tough loss. You know about the stages of grief, and that the way out is through. Lean on your work family and celebrate your memories of this member of your family. We really do bond, and you're right - people don't always understand it. But being in what is often a pressure cooker for 12 hours at a time with these folks, it really changes you together. People who haven't been there won't ever really get it.
Please, please, please - stop beating yourself up. And please don't keep those feelings inside - if you have an employee assistance program (EAP) at your hospital, make use of it. Use your resources, and help each other through this time.
Oct 4, '17
Just wanted to add, for anyone reading ... if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please get help. That National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.
Oct 4, '17
I'm very sorry, Racer15.
It's very natural for those near such a situation to feel the way you do, as far as your statement that you're beating yourself up. I believe this is part of the grieving process in this situation, because to try to make rational sense of why we would believe we have superhuman powers to know others' private pain and struggles (even people very close to us) - - well, although it hurts to admit it: it doesn't make sense that we would know. Being able to see any and every thing through a different (and terrible) restrospective lens now does not rationally add up to being responsible - rather, it is our heart crying out, I wish I would have known. It just hurts so terribly that we don't know what else to say.
You are someone who has been - and will remain - positively affected by your co-worker, and you are someone she clearly enjoyed.
Along with Pixie I urge you to take advantage of employee assistance services. You deserve care for your broken heart.
Oct 5, '17
Thank you for the kind words. I went to her visitation and it was helpful. Almost half of the funeral home was filled with ER staff. There were a lot of hugs and tears, and a lot of laughter, sharing stories. I will look into our EAP. I just miss her so much already, I always looked forward to seeing her at work. Seeing so many of our work family at her visitation just broke my heart all over again because there are so many people that loved her so much, and she didn't reach out to any of us.
Oct 5, '17
Quote from Racer15
Seeing so many of our work family at her visitation just broke my heart all over again because there are so many people that loved her so much, and she didn't reach out to any of us.
And that doesn't mean she didn't love you all in return; she just may not have loved herself enough to stay. <3 So glad to hear you are all in this together. Be well. *hugs*
Oct 6, '17
My father in law was playing with his kids with zero signs and an hour later he had hung himself. Sometimes there is no warning sign and suicidal people actually seem happier prior to committing suicide because they finally feel at peace with their choice and see an end to their suffering.
There is nothing you could have done, there is no way you could have known. I think you should take advantage of your employers EAP program, if they have one or ask about it in employee health. It's traumatic and not something you should deal with alone.
Oct 6, '17
I am very sorry for your loss. Suicide is so awful for the surviving family and friends.
Oct 8, '17
I am so sorry. I think she was saying goodbye to you, judging by some of the content of her conversation with you and she had decided. To repeat, she made her mind up to complete suicide and she did it. She was in pain and wanted to be out of the pain. None of this is your fault or your responsibility.
I think your manager should find a facilitator to have a group session with you and other co-workers. You need to share your feeling together and come to an acceptance of your feelings. And hers. She'd probably attempted a/o contemplated this many times and suffered for a long time. Depression is crippling.
Oct 9, '17
I can definitely tell you she was saying goodbye and she had this planned but none of it is your fault or responsibility. She was in pain and she could not take it anymore.
Oct 11, '17
I know now she had it planned. She cleaned out her locker after our last shift together. Which hurts, and I'm trying to make my peace with it, but it's hard. One of my coworkers hasn't had more than 10 hours of sleep in a week because of this. I broke down today at work when she sat down next to me to talk about it. She said "she was mine, just like you are mine, I don't want to stop having emotions, I won't stop because this is who I am." Our bosses pulled her aside to suggest counseling, but this should have been addressed from day one. For all of us. There have been no resources offered, no debriefing. It's one of the most traumatic things I think most of my coworkers have gone through. And this is not the first. We had a nurse in another department commit suicide last year. And another a few years before that. I've been asked how it could have been handled better by the hospital and I don't know because this a first for me, and I pray to God a last, I just know it should have been more. I've dreaded every shift this past week, I cry on my drive there...which isn't all bad because once I get to work I am around people that know and understand, and we've been more open about how much we love each other. Which I guess leads to the question of what resources are we lacking for situations like this? I know about EAP but I feel more should have been done because this has been almost too much to handle for a few of us.
Oct 11, '17
Quote from Racer15
Which I guess leads to the question of what resources are we lacking for situations like this? I know about EAP but I feel more should have been done because this has been almost too much to handle for a few of us.
I think you are totally right. I'm surprised that management didn't offer some sort of debrief soon after the event. I think it would be entirely appropriate to get the chaplain/spiritual care team involved, too; their role includes addressing the emotional needs of staff in addition to patients. I'm guessing that your ED managers have never encountered this situation, and simply don't know what to do. If you feel up to it, perhaps you could recommend a debrief with assistance from the spiritual care staff (although please emotionally prepare yourself for the possibility that your managers won't approve your request).
I am so, so sorry for your loss, and I hope you can find comfort through the pain. It sounds like you have an incredible support network to draw from. (((Hugs)))
Oct 11, '17
Management missed the boat. One thing we must do is shine a light when these things happen. Ignoring it or carrying on like "normal" is not helpful to anyone. When we had a suicide at my hospital, it was acknowledged and services were immediately offered by our chaplain and staff.
I have learned that physician suicide is one of medicine's dirty little secrets, and it extends to medical students as well. I have seen firsthand last year that even large academic institutions are often unable to do what needs to be done when a med student class is suddenly reduced by one. Not talking about it makes it so much worse.
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