Lost a patient to suicide?


Today I lost a patient to suicide. Not in the unit. He never made it to us. I have known him for a few years, and just a day or so ago was wondering why I had not seen him for awhile...he was a "frequent flyer". Read about it in the newspaper. I never get used to this. Not ever.

I am so very sad. Going over and over in my mind... was there anything we could have done better? Lit some candles for him and sending him the love and care I wish I could have expressed better when he was here. Guess I just wanted to share, and to ask you -- to share your experiences, how you felt, how you grieved, how you moved on, how you learned for next time? I know I'm not alone - it is something all psych nurses have happen. But it just never gets any easier.


2 Articles; 983 Posts

Specializes in ICU, SDU, OR, RR, Ortho, Hospice RN.

No it does not get easier purplekath but you are doing the first part of moving forward in that you are speaking about it. Voicing how you feel is important to try to get your head around the past events.

You sound a very caring person and I doubt you could have done anything differently or better. Unfortunately the human mind is something we think we have control over but don't.

My girlfriend's hubby was having help for his Manic Depression. He tried to commit suicide so many times. We helped we watched we did all we thought we could do but he still managed to do it.

I am sorry you are so sad but please do not beat yourself up over this.

This person is now free of the torment that he must have been going through. Take some comfort that he is not suffering now hon.

Lastly I am from Tassie but now live happily in the USA. How are things in Australia? I miss the smell of the gum trees and listening to the Magpie's warble.


63 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric. Has 2 years experience.

I am so very sorry!! I was a psych nurse for 2 years. I had several patients attempt suicide but none that succeded (that I know of). I'm not sure I could've handled it. They say that God won't give you anything you can't bear.... so you are a stronger person than I. God Bless, and I'll keep you in my prayers.


215 Posts

Thanks guys -- I'm all re-grouped now. I think that is how I do psych nursing ... tears after work a couple of times a week, then onward and upward. Still never gets easier though. Thanks for the support.


2 Articles; 983 Posts

Specializes in ICU, SDU, OR, RR, Ortho, Hospice RN.

Good to hear Purple. It is ok to fall apart once and a while. Glad you have regrouped. It is great to have a place where you can come and vent or what ever to get it off your chest isn't it?

Happy Memorial Day to you all.


20 Posts

Specializes in Psych/Behavioral Health. Has 6 years experience.


I have been doing psych for 6 years mostly with adolescents (12-18). There are a lot of "attention seeking" attepmts, mostly scratches and Tylenol ODs. However there was 1 who was a frequent flyer, a 14 yo who have been sexually abused by the father since he was an toddler. He had been in and out of our facilities and he was such a good kid behavior wise but had lots of issues in terms of sexual identity and trust.

He was released from us and about 2 weeks later we heard he had hanged himself after being allegedly raped by an older male relative. We all were in shock and sadden to know that such a life so young could be so tormented that the only solution was for him to take his life.

I shed lots of tears for him, sent up a prayer and finally came to realize that he was not hurting emotionally or physically anymore. Each time I hear a teenager "threaten" suicide when they can't have their way I want to share this story to show them that they are being selfish and that is why they are at our facility because we never know just how serious they truly are.

But to move on, I am glad you found a place to share your experiences and were able to move forward. Bless you and best wishes.


16 Posts

I had a patient hang her self in the shower. She used the emergency pull cord in the shower. The worst sight I think I have ever seen.


34 Posts

I'm going to be starting work as an RN on an inpatient psych unit in a couple of months. As I've been thinking about it, I've realized that the suicide issue is definitely the one I'm most concerned about. I know it happens relatively rarely, but I'm not sure how I would deal with finding someone who was "successful"...


215 Posts

Worth thinking about ...it sucks basically. The first time I found someone hanging in their closet was sooooo traumatic! When I do my checks now, I still hold my breath when opening the closet. Actually I find it worse when I find someone "not successful"...someone still alive but struggling. Chilling. And like I said, never gets any easier. There is always the question..."did I miss something they said?"..."could I have done something more?". No, it doesn't happen often, but when it does, you feel it intensely.

HOWEVER, there are great rewards in HEARING a person who is in pain, and being there to hold their hand through the most terrifying times of their lives. To let them know they are not alone, that someone actually cares about how they feel tonight...right now. To hold a hand is a small thing to those who are ok...but is enormous to those who feel lost in that moment.


124 Posts

It's sad to lose a patient to suicide, but even sadder to lose a co-worker. We experienced that last week. He didn't work for the same agency, but for an agency that contracted with ours and we shared some of the same patients. I'm very angry at him.

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