suicide... help?

Specialties Psychiatric


I have worked in the psych field for two years now, I work in a state mental hospital, and yesterday was my first experience with a suicide. I have dealt with deaths in the past, in other capacities, but not intentional death. I guess what I am wondering is if anyone can shine some insight on how to clear my head... I cannot seem to get this young person out of my mind. It's difficult not to question what we could have done to prevent this from occuring... and I realize hindsight is always better. I try not to take my work home with me, and I usually am pretty good about that, but I must be slipping. Any suggestions??


365 Posts

If you were not concerned or disturbed by this, I would question your devotion to what you do. Caring is one of the most honorable feelings a person can have. I can totally understand your feelings. To think this young person felt there was nothing in their life worth living for greives me. Where there is life there is hope. Even in my most depressed state, I never considered suicide. I knew what it would do to my family and I believe it to be wrong. Did this precious person have no family? I feel in some ways I can understand some of what this person was feeling for I am just now recovering from the dark tunnel of deep depression and am finally seeing the light again. I feel such sadness that they could see no way out. I can also see this from your veiwpoint. 5 years ago on Christmas Eve, a patient in our LTC facility decided she could no longer live life without her beloved husband. She had as much as told a family member she was going to commit sucide but they thought it was the ravings of an old woman and didn't bother to tell us. She cut a hole in her screen after prying open her window and jumped from the third floor. She was a very tiny lady, hardly weighed 80 pounds, and nearly every bone in her frail little body was broken. The sad part was that she didn't die instantly but laid in the snow and suffered until someone did a routine bedcheck and discovered what she had done. thankfully she did not die alone for our staff was with her as she died. To this day I am haunted by this. I see her in my mind and I ache that she was so sad and we had no idea of what she was planning because to the staff she was always so cheerful and thankful, always expressing her love and thankfulness to us. During the investigation, we noted that the date had been circled on her calendar. I pray for her soul and have to believe that God understood her pain and she has been united with her husband. You will never forget, and it will make you look a little harder at each case, but remember, we cannot read anyones mind. You never know what someone is thinking, you are human and can only do so much. Just move on to the next person that needs you and do all you can for them. I will pray that you find peace and you will be in my thoughts. God Bless!


118 Posts

New Girl, we had suicide were i work one of the senior mental health team member explained it like this, patients die in other specialties as part of their disease process the same thing happens in mental health approx. 10% of all schizophrenics will die as a result of their disease and often there is nothing we could have done to prevent this happening unless you keep them locked up and wrapped in cotton wool.MHN

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

We allow terminally ill cancer patients to refuse all treatment and slip away. Your suicide pt was terminally ill, and chose to forgo further treatment. Simplistic- but death will happen eventually to all of us, he/she just chose to go sooner.


27 Posts

It is okay to feel the way you do. The important part is to put those feelings into perspective. I would hope that you had some critical debriefing after the suicide. I would also hope that you have regular clinical supervision. Sometimes we have to accept that we done all we could and that the person makes their decision no matter what interventions we put in place. It is also okay to take time out, go to what we call employee assistance programmes to talk it through with someone separate form the organisation. I have been there and done all of the above and I found it beneficial. I also had the opportunity at the time to research literature and write an assignment. I am sure that if you have the ability to go through these methods you will realise that you are an excellent nurse and you are only human and that some people are so determined to end their life.


2 Posts

I have been in a situation like yours, and the most important thing, you have to understand is, that the choice to commit suicide was the patient's. You can only do so much, and in the end, and no matter how disturbed or ill the patient(schizofrenic, depressed) is, you can never change his/her desicion, and certainly not, if the patient did not alarm you in any way.

If the patient was diagnosed with a emotionally desturbed personality/borderline personality and told about his/her intensions, you still cant be sure to prevent suicide from happening, because that type of patient for the most part is not psycotic, so it is a clear choice, even though it is committed in affection.

When these things happen in our ward, we discuss it and support eachother, we get surpervision and so on. Dont you have that? It is very clear, that you have to talk to other professionals about this.

Thoughts from a Danish nurse.


5 Posts

Well for starters congrats you are human! When someone we know and care about dies there will be feelings involved. What may make it worse is you need to be around where the death happened often which may tend to keep it on your mind. Thats okay because that is where it needs to be. What you must try to do is desensitize yourself to the incident. You can do this by allowing yourself to think about it, by seeking out colleagues to talk about it, and pehaps talking with an Employee Assistance Program counselor about it. But you need to desensitize yourself from this incident. as a psych nurse myself, I have experienced many of my pts deaths from suicide, medical problems and even overdosage. Since we interact with our pts, we do develop feeling toward and about them. The healing process may take some time. Allow yourself to grieve. eventually this too wil pass. Also take some time and pamper yourself It helps! DEADNURSE

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