Nurses Share Stories of Suicide and Economy

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Mar 22 2009 - 2:10pm

Nurses are talking about the rise in patient suicides and the downturn in our economy. The Medscape blog, “In Our Own Words”, offers nurses (and certainly other healthcare providers) a chance to share views and opinions. The latest addition includes sad stories, and “brainstorming” about how to help individuals who fall victim to depression, poor health and suicidal overdose from depression related to lack of insurance, job loss, and the economy.

A New York State nurse appropriately calls funding cutbacks in New York City for homeless shelters “The Perfect Storm”, as those without jobs find themselves wandering the streets, choosing overdose rather than face economic devastation. Another nurse finds child safety in jeopardy, as homes become unsafe for children due to lack of family resources related to stress.

Here are two comments from our nation’s nurses about the current economic crisis and the impact on mental health, taken from the Medscape forum:

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“As an RN student, I get to go to all the different departments and I will say I am saddened at how many people are overdosing on narcotics. This one guy was in the ICU the other day, 40 yrs old, gorgeous brown eyes, tall, and a handsome smile. Who would have thought he ate 20 Oxycontins the day before, hoping to die. When I do my physical assessments, I am secretly praying for God to touch these people. They think I am just checking their pulses and their hand grips. They think my hand is just on their chest counting breaths or listening. But I believe in prayer. I usually make some kind of comment like, “What a beautiful day God has given us". I stay in a "God is Awesome" frame of mind. I see such a huge need for so many hopeless people to feel love. Sometimes, a soft touch and whispered prayer can give someone hope that somebody cares if they live or die. As a student, my 10 hour shifts are unpaid. My payment is a smile from my patient.”

“As an ER nurse for 13 years, I am now seeing female patients who have attempted hanging themselves...a very new thing in this area (New Mexico). Also, many more overdoses in the population of already unstable people. I fear this increase is a sign that there is more hopelessness, and without drastic steps to increase support for social and mental health programs, it doesn't look like this will improve. Our nation's emergency medicine systems need more support for mental health issues. In our hospital, the crisis counselors have been cut in half, and there are long waits, sometimes 12 hours, for a mental health evaluation”.

There is no doubt that a poor economy causes individual suffering, increases suicide rates, family violence and places demands on our nation’s nurses and healthcare providers. One solution is awareness. We all need to remain vigilant in order to help others through tough economic times.

Feel free to share your opinion here about the impact of the economy and health. Also see more of the discussion, or leave a comment at the Medscape forum or below.

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Comments

...more fallout from the privately owned Federal Reserve Banking System run by families with the moral character of gutter rats.
I agree wholeheartedly with the experience of the student nurse and the nurse on the front line of care. The suffering of the public is mirrored and greatly magnified across the country in the acute care as well as the community health setting. Without any quick fix identified, it is likely that we nurses and society will remain in less than optimal circumstances going forward. This has a profound impact on nurses in obvious and subtle ways, pointing to the need for all nurses to take their own self-care to a higher level. Having been a nurse for over 30 years, my work has been exclusively devoted to advocating for nurses who develop a problem with alcohol or other drugs since 2003, which prompted me to write a book titled "Unbecoming A Nurse." The book promotes nurse safety and wellness initiatives, some of which can be viewed on-line at www.unbecominganurse.org. While we continue caring for the public with our expert hands, we need to be increasingly mindful in these very harsh times that our own wellness and safety is the minimal prerequisite to caring for our families, friends and patients. We nurses are an extremely valuable resource to our family, our employer, our country and OURSELVES. We must cherish that resource and care for it at least as much as we care for our cars. paula
My husband took his own life with a single gunshot to the head, mainly caused by his concerns of our financial security because of the failing financial situation.
i just read your comment. My heart aches. I have tears as I ponder the gravity of all of this, and what has happened to you personally. I can only wish you peace - and I do, from the bottom of my heart. I know there are no words that can soothe the pain of what has happened in your life.