Can We Talk About Nurse Suicide?

Updated | Published
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Why don't we talk about suicide openly? And how can we change that?

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Cgritz77

Cgritz77, RN

Has 8 years experience. 32 Posts

You know it's funny, because I feel a lot of nurses and other medical professionals do not come out about their struggles due to the backlash they face as well. I suffer from anxiety and depression and I'd never dare talk about that openly. The boards are able to suspend or revoke your license if they feel your mental health puts you at risk for making mistakes. I know of a student resident who did not want to seek help for his debilitating depression for fear the medical board would find out about his issues and punish him for it. It's disgusting.

Cgritz77

Cgritz77, RN

Has 8 years experience. 32 Posts

You know it's funny, because I feel a lot of nurses and other medical professionals do not come out about their struggles due to the backlash they face as well. I suffer from anxiety and depression and I'd never dare talk about that openly. The boards are able to suspend or revoke your license if they feel your mental health puts you at risk for making mistakes. I know of a student resident who did not want to seek help for his debilitating depression for fear the medical board would find out about his issues and punish him for it. It's disgusting.

Undercat, BSN, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in Retired. Has 41 years experience. 307 Posts

Glad the problem is being outed. Over the years I have felt that the rate is rising but had no proof since the CDC doesn't keep these statistics (only for MD's). There is a direct relationship between the expectations of taking care of increasingly sick people with less staff which sends a terrible message to nurses - we are not important enough in the eyes of our administrators to be cared for as valuable employees. Even as a CRNA, I remember in the 80's we always got a little breather between cases (even in a non-academic corporate practice) but each year the amount of cases rose, the hours got longer, lunch was usually something I ate out of my pocket (sorry OR nurses:), and if the turnover time was more than 20 minutes, we got a reminder from our supervisors - as if we could move faster than human capability. One day while working in the cataract room I was spinning so fast I tore a meniscus in my knee. And,most troubling, is that there is no answer to resolving this except to create patient ratios in every, single hospital. Most troubling, is that the ANA won't back up the staff nurses to legislate this goal. But articles like this may help us grow sensitive to fact that some of our members suffer more than others and we need to get educated and value a caring environment - actually not tolerate anything less than that......sigh.

imenid37

imenid37

1,804 Posts

I have been so low, I have thought about it for months at a time. Right now, I am doing pretty well. I had a person who was my boss who was a liar and a narcissist. She violated our HR policy and interviewed and hired another outside person for a position, I had formerly held with outstanding evaluations. The CNO backed her up. She was “sure” that the policy was not violated. Where on Earth did I get that idea? Maybe from the back of the employment app and the policy manual? It said that any and all qualified current employees will be interviewed prior to accepting outside applications. This woman, my direct manager, was a total narcissist who made my life miserable. I quit because I could not stand her. She stabbed her BFF in the back who she had hired. Two of her multiple children have profound mental health issues. One committed suicide. I encountered her at another facility almost ten years later and quit when I had heard she was hired. I have never ever felt the same way about nursing after this experience. I keep to myself at work sharing few details. I am not a FB friend of any coworkers. I enjoy patient care and the work, but keep a self imposed isolation because I cannot bear this again. Being forced to provide elder care for my verbally abusive and distant mother has not helped me either. Sometimes, as a nurse, family and coworkers are very quick to dump on you with no thought of ever reciprocating even to the slightest degree. I enjoy activities such as traveling and caring for animals. I have a few close friends who are not nurses. I let nursing mean everything to me earlier in my life and it was a huge mistake.

Edited by imenid37

LindaGracie, ADN, BSN

Specializes in geriatric, home health. Has 7 years experience. 4 Articles; 33 Posts

5 hours ago, imenid37 said:

I have been so low, I have thought about it for months at a time. Right now, I am doing pretty well. I had a person who was my boss who was a liar and a narcissist. She violated our HR policy and interviewed and hired another outside person for a position, I had formerly held with outstanding evaluations. The CNO backed her up. She was “sure” that the policy was not violated. Where on Earth did I get that idea? Maybe from the back of the employment app and the policy manual? It said that any and all qualified current employees will be interviewed prior to accepting outside applications.

It is sad that nursing (and much of the corporate work culture) has became so demeaning and demanding. The story of Solomon's son who did not take the counsel of the wise advisors but took the advise of the foolish ones and made things worse for Israel to the point the majority of the nation split off from his rule. Too many good nurses seem to be struggling emotionally from the emotionally abusive/high stress jobs. People can only take so much. I think nurses really do need to unite to make positive changes.

MediKateRN

MediKateRN, MSN, APRN

Specializes in FNP, Retail Health, Primary Care, Corrections. Has 10 years experience. 9 Posts

Why can't we talk about it? 1) Every two years when I renew my license, I have to attest that I don't have a physical or mental disorder that could impair my performance. 2) Stigma remains

In my first year of nursing, I went through several different medications, one particularly stood out because it was the first time I felt like I couldn't drive to work after taking the medicine for the first time 12 hours earlier. I called my boss and explained what happened, and she told me I needed to just get over it and get to work because she didn't have anyone else to cover the evening shift. Even though I knew better, I got behind the wheel of my car and drove to work because I was scared to lose my job. After that day I kept my lip buttoned about my mental health at work. Eventually, I found a position that worked better for me and an environment more conducive to my mental health.

KalipsoRed21

KalipsoRed21, BSN

Specializes in Currently: Home Health. Has 14 years experience. 360 Posts

Ultimately I think that the unattainable demands on nurses along with administrative creep and nurses who sit there and say “you can do this!” increase both burnout and risk for suicide in healthcare. 
I hate nursing for this conflict of expectations! I wish every day I could get out of this mentally damning career almost every. single. day.