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When a patient commits suicide...

Nurses   (2,624 Views 4 Comments)

lovingtheunloved has 12 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, home health, critical care.

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Found out today that a patient committed suicide. How exactly am I supposed to deal with this? I've been completely preoccupied with it all day.

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300 Posts; 5,676 Profile Views

Disassociate yourself with the fact they killed themself and think of it as just another death. Sounds awful but it will stop you going insane with 'what if' questions. Cry on the inside but just go on with your day. Go for a run, the gym or something physically exhausting and requires alot of focus.

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Meriwhen is a ASN, BSN, RN and specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

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I'm sorry you're experiencing this.

If you are blaming yourself in any way, stop because it isn't your fault. You can't control what patients do once they are outside of your facility. You weren't the one responsible for "saving" them from themselves...and suicide is not always preventable, either, especially if they didn't manifest any warning signs while they were your patient. You can only do so much, but if a patient is suicidal, they're going to do it no matter what you do to prevent it. I know that sounds harsh and right now, you're probably also hearing it as harsh...but that is the reality. You couldn't control what the patient decided to do to him/herself.

It's hard to dissoicate yourself, but you need to. If you want/have to mourn, you should, but set limits on how long (allow yourself the day) and where (if you think you'll have a hard time keeping it together at work today, take the day off). You will exhaust yourself mentally and emotionally if you continue to dwell on it for longer that that. And PP is right: distract yourself with something..,and do not feel guilty about doing so. YOU need to continue living.

The feelings will abate with time. I know because I've been there. More than once.

Take care of yourself right now.

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437 Posts; 4,514 Profile Views

So, if you think back about it did the patient possibly give you any clue that he/she was thinking of suicide? Did the patient have a long history of depression or did he/she recently get a new devastating diagnosis? Do you have any clue as to what lead to the suicide?

If the answers are no then who knows why it happened. It was probably something in that persons life that only he/she would have seen suicide as the only alternative. Anybody else would have just handled it. Even if this patient had a psych referral there is no guarantee it would have stopped a suicide.

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