suicide of patient on unit

  1. one of our patients was found on an early morning round yesterday morning...had got a hold of a housecoat tie (usually not allowed on unit) and hung himself from a door jam...

    the shock is in no way worn off...the images repeat...

    debriefing was helpful, but would like to hear from others how they best coped...
  2. Visit finn_fab profile page

    About finn_fab

    Joined: Oct '03; Posts: 12

    12 Comments

  3. by   christymwinn
    finn fab,

    so sorry to hear about your experience! I have never been in a situation like that myself, but I would tell you to take every advantage of talking iwth someone. If your work makes a professional counselor or psychologist available, I think it would help you alot.

    Christine
  4. by   EricJRN
    I'm very sorry, finn fab.
  5. by   rn/writer
    Your employer absolutely needs to have some kind of debriefing for everyone involved. There should be a formal investigation and a policy review with the goal of preventing this kind of event from ever occurring again. And there should also be a critical incident stress debriefing to handle the thoughts and emotions of the staff on your unit.

    How are the other patients reacting? They need some kind of attention and acknowledgement as well.

    Your unit manager should not let this become the elephant in the room that no one will talk about.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    I am so sorry. This is so sad for the staff and the family.
  7. by   Melina
    Sorry sorry to hear! I started out as a volunteer in an inpatient facility, and my second week we had a pt hand himself. One of the other pts found him. I know they had a debriefing with staff and patients, but when I came back the day after, everyone seemed unwilling to discuss it. What I had to cope with personally was that I hadn't checked in with this pt like I had planned the last time I was there. He was new, and I always tried to spend a little time with the pts I didn't know. I don't blame myself, or any other staff, but it was hard.

    Rn/writer is right about the investigation. Some places bring in grief counselors to work with staff/patients. Take care.

    ~Mel'
  8. by   finn_fab
    there was a helpful debriefing for all involved (critical incident stress response)...I'm meaning in terms of returning to work and how to feel good about the job again...it's still very fresh.
  9. by   rn/writer
    Formal debriefing is only a first step. The usual reaction of people who have been involved in something traumatic is that they need to talk about it repeatedly for a little while. If that need is met, it begins to recede. Even still, it will likely crop up again from time to time.

    Here are some other suggestions. Write about your feelings. Write down some of the "what ifs" and "if onlies," that keep going through your mind and then work on letting them go.

    Do some exploration, either alone or with coworkers or others with similar experiences of loss.

    Are you angry with yourselves or with the patient for doing this to himself and all of you? That's one emotion that often gets suppressed because it seems so wrong.

    Are you fearful that this might happen again? Help each other talk through both the emotions of this and ideas for prevention.

    Do your best to keep other things on an even keel. Try to eat and sleep right. Exercise. Stay away from alcohol and other numbing agents for a bit.

    Remember to have some fun. Grieving and recovery do not have to be a full time job. In fact, it's better if they are not. Unrelieved immersion clouds your perspective and can lead to a slow, subtle decline into depression.

    Keeping confidentiality in mind, confide in your family and friends. They don't need to know particular details about this patient. What they DO need is to hear how it's affecting you and what they can do to be helpful and supportive.

    If you are stuck at first with feeling and expressing emotions, look for books or music or films that might help you get over the hump. Sometimes, having a good cry or a good mad over a movie opens the gates, even if it seems unrelated to the subject at hand.

    Be good to yourselves and each other. Listen to those who want to talk. Realize that you're all kind of bruised and battered right now and try hard to build each other up with kindness and gentle humor.

    This will get better.

    Please let us know how you are all doing.
  10. by   fgoff
    This is a hard thing to deal with! I'm sorry for you & your unit! It has happened here before. I feel with you.

    Don't forget that if your unit is not able to do formal critical stress debreifing that your EAP can help as well.

    In my thoughts!:icon_hug:
  11. by   CametoitlateTexan
    Quote from rn/writer
    Formal debriefing is only a first step. The usual reaction of people who have been involved in something traumatic is that they need to talk about it repeatedly for a little while. If that need is met, it begins to recede. Even still, it will likely crop up again from time to time.

    Here are some other suggestions. Write about your feelings. Write down some of the "what ifs" and "if onlies," that keep going through your mind and then work on letting them go.

    Do some exploration, either alone or with coworkers or others with similar experiences of loss.

    Are you angry with yourselves or with the patient for doing this to himself and all of you? That's one emotion that often gets suppressed because it seems so wrong.

    Are you fearful that this might happen again? Help each other talk through both the emotions of this and ideas for prevention.

    Do your best to keep other things on an even keel. Try to eat and sleep right. Exercise. Stay away from alcohol and other numbing agents for a bit.

    Remember to have some fun. Grieving and recovery do not have to be a full time job. In fact, it's better if they are not. Unrelieved immersion clouds your perspective and can lead to a slow, subtle decline into depression.

    Keeping confidentiality in mind, confide in your family and friends. They don't need to know particular details about this patient. What they DO need is to hear how it's affecting you and what they can do to be helpful and supportive.

    If you are stuck at first with feeling and expressing emotions, look for books or music or films that might help you get over the hump. Sometimes, having a good cry or a good mad over a movie opens the gates, even if it seems unrelated to the subject at hand.

    Be good to yourselves and each other. Listen to those who want to talk. Realize that you're all kind of bruised and battered right now and try hard to build each other up with kindness and gentle humor.

    This will get better.

    Please let us know how you are all doing.

    This is all great advice. Most people don't recognize a traumatic event as a wound, but it is. There are many helpful interventions, all of which can assist in the healing process.
  12. by   finn_fab
    thanks for the suggestions...there are many helpful ones! as an update, the fellow is still alive; they have attempted him off the respirator and had to intubate him again due to stridor...but he is responding to staff up in ICU, and it seems he may survive fully.
  13. by   MissPiggy
    2 years ago I found one of my pts. hanging in his shower, beyond any help. Since I lost a brother to suicide as well 15 years ago, I went to one of the staff psychiatrists, who was only too happy to help. Our counselors also offered to help us. Although I will always think of it when I go into that room, it has receded quite a bit. I urge you to seek professional help or take advantage of what your employer offers and follow what they recommend so that you can avoid PTSD which is a very real possibility.
    Above all else, know that if a pt. really wants to do it, they WILL find a way, so never blame yourself. Good luck and take care of yourself - you have been through a traumatic incident and you need time to heal.
  14. by   TitaniaSidhe
    I have had this happen to me, myself & a NA found him hanging in the bathroom from the hand rail during health & safety rounds. We managed to get BP & pulse back but he never regained breathing & family made the decision to remove him from life support. It was quite upsetting for a long time after that incident, I had a difficult time going into that room to make rounds- most esp working the night shift. They of course had debriefing at work, myself I found it more comforting to talk about it with other experienced mental health workers who had been through hard events over the years, somehow I just felt that if you had never experienced a incident similarly traumatic well then how could you understand how I was feeling. My staff & peers were great, I am blessed to work with a great nurse who has had her BSN wsince before I was born & over 30 yrs. experience in psych nursing, all my NA's have MANYyears experience, we were there to support each oter & talk among ourselves. I have had sadly many pretty traumatic things happen on my shift over the years at the insititution I work in, sometimes it helps me to view chronicly mentally ill as having, in a way,(I know people are gonna jump all over me for this opinion but here goes anyhow) a terminal illness. For those on whom medications do not work well, no matter what you try & what combos you give. Most hallucinations are not pleasant & well if I had to endure years of seeing & hearing unpleasant, scary things I think after a while it would make me start thinking of checking out too. This particular incident was a patient who had made serious gestures multiple times over the years secondary to chronic major depression. I guess what I am trying to say is it helps to remember you do the best you can do on any given day for your patients & we can not be responsile for another persons actions, we can only do the best we can. Try not to feel guilty, I struggle with that for a bit...but yeah I do KNOW how you feel.

close