I have read several articles recently about the high rate of suicide in Dr's. I am sure it is a problem with all health care workers, I lost both my brothers to suicide (one in 1997 and one in 2001) I am posting this to help all nurses with education regarding this sad and devastating loss. Personally I look at suicide as cancer of the soul. But I realize that many nurses still think that it is a cop out and done to hurt family members who are left.
Please familarize yourself with the American Foundation for prevention of suicide. (http://www.afsp.org) Every health care worker needs to understand the warning signs--just as we have had MI and stroke education. MAny times it is coexisting with substance abuse as a means of self medication and with bipolar disease. But even if these are not an issue--a loved one or patient can end up dead by suicide.
It is hard for family and friends to deal with death in this manner because there is so much sadness, anger, confusion, and even embarassment. I never realized how common it is for more than one member in a family (or a group of friends) can be at higher risk when someone close to them commits suicide. I have had comments about how selfish this act was from well meaning friends. But I watched the downward spiral with my youngest brother and missed cues from my middle brother. I also remember having patients on the acute care units I have worked on over the years and the comments that are made by staff during report.
March is suicide awareness month. Please stop and think that mental illness is a disease just like any other physical problem. I am now an only child...and my mom and dad will never be the same. Neither will I, but I am chosing to do something positive by educating the public and I believe this starts with the medical community. If you know of anyone who has symptoms of depression or has expressed the idea of killing themself---please please don't hesitate to do whatever you can to help them. If you have fallen into that dark well yourself and think there is no other way out--contact your suicide hotline.
Many uninsured can fall through the cracks (and even insured as they will only cover so many mental health visits--most with copays.) I miss my brothers every day and treasure my children while being scared to pieces that they may inherit substance abuse or depression. If this post changes even one mind about how you look at patients or friends or loved ones--even yourself, I will feel like I accomplished something tonight.
Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. All my prayers--Cheryl sis to Danny and Doug.