Worth Dying For? Written by: Colleen M. Garcia, BSN, RN, CLC, CCE.
Sarah was well known among her peers to be punctual. I mean, you could set your clock by her, kind of punctual. She was always willing to help her co-workers and very well liked on her unit. One morning, the extremely punctual Sarah was late…very late. Talk began among her co-workers, questioning what might have happened. After many unanswered phone calls and no appearance to her scheduled shift after many hours, calls were made to the local police department.
Later, during that same shift, the staff was gathered together by the management team and informed that Sarah had been located in her house alone, we were told that she was unconscious and that every effort was made to resuscitate her but that the paramedics were unsuccessful. Tears immediately began to flow among staff member as we all stood there shocked. The managers continued. Sarah left a note behind they told us, and we would all have access to on-site counselors if we felt we needed that.
For the next hours, every staff member on the unit walked around in a stunned silence. No one wanted to verbalize the truth that had happened. The truth, Sarah had chosen to take her own life.
As staff members struggled to make sense of things, memories of Sarah started to emerge. Bonnie, one of Sarah’s co-workers and a close friend, reminisced about how Sarah always had a kind word for others. Bonnie remembered how Sarah was having a hard time with a patient whom she had bonded with and cared deeply for. The patient was in end stage renal disease and having a very hard time coping with the progression of his disease. The patient was only 46 years old and Sarah was often heard cheering him on and lavishing encouraging words on him and his family. Slightly before her death, Sarah came out of this patient’s room and was visibly upset. Bonnie said that she had asked her about it and Sarah just sloughed it off saying “It doesn’t even matter”.
Bonnie had the hardest time with Sarah’s death and said over and over that she should have seen this coming. In reality, do any of us really see “this” coming? Do we just set up our own set of coping techniques to get us through the difficulties that we face every single day at work?
Nursing is an incredibly stressful career choice. From the first days of clinicals to the very day of retirement, nurses face difficult situations and stressors on a daily basis. In fact, stress and burn out affect 10-70% of nurses. The sources of the stress vary from the cases that they observe, the time constraints to get the work completed, conflict with co-workers and leadership, or a lack of control over their work environment. Stress can then lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and detachment from their work which, in turn, may lead to patient safety concerns. Therefore, one could conclude that, successful management of stress is essential to the well-being of not only the nurse, but to the patients as well.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month
This month is so important for all healthcare professionals to take a few moments and really assess where they are, share stories and shed light on this highly forbidden topic. It is crucial to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. YOU, my healthcare co-workers, ARE SO VERY IMPORTANT!
- If you or someone you know is in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
- If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
- If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
http://avalonmedicaleducators.com offers an online course Trauma and Burnout in healthcare and How to Manage it