Nurses’ experiences of patient suicide and suicide attempts in an acute unit
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Nurses’ experiences of patient suicide and suicide attempts in an acute unit

Fiona Bohan Staff nurse, South West Area Health Board, Ireland
Louise Doyle Lecturer in psychiatric nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Suicide and attempted suicide in an acute unit can have a devastating effect on staff and other patients. Fiona Bohan and Louise Doyle describe nurses’ experiences of such events and their perceptions of the support they were given after the incident

Suicide and suicide attempts in Ireland have increased significantly in the last 20 years. A psychiatric staff nurse working in an acute mental health setting has a high chance of encountering a patient suicide or suicide attempt during his or her career. The occurrence of an inpatient suicide or suicide attempt is a stressful and devastating event for psychiatric nursing staff (Billings 2003). Vicarious traumas are serious manifestations of workplace stress and can have substantial consequences for healthcare professionals. Support services are minimal for psychiatric staff at present and, as a result, recent reports recommend that staff support should be developed further. This study describes psychiatric nurses’ experience of suicide and suicide attempts in an acute unit and explores their perceptions of the support they received after the incident.

Mental Health Practice. 11, 5, 12-16. doi: 10.7748/mhp2008.

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