The nurses working in psychiatric hospitals and wards are prone to encounter completed suicides. The research was conducted to examine post-suicide stress in nurses and the availability of suicide-related mental health care services and education.
Experiences with inpatient suicide were investigated using an anonymous, self-reported questionnaire, which was, along with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, administered to 531 psychiatric nurses.
The rate of nurses who had encountered patient suicide was 55.0%. The mean Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) score was 11.4. The proportion of respondents at a high risk (≥ 25 on the 88-point IES-R score) for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 13.7%. However, only 15.8% of respondents indicated that they had access to post-suicide mental health care programmes. The survey also revealed a low rate of nurses who reported attending in-hospital seminars on suicide prevention or mental health care for nurses (26.4% and 12.8%, respectively).
These results indicated that nurses exposed to inpatient suicide suffer significant mental distress. However, the low availability of systematic post-suicide mental health care programmes for such nurses and the lack of suicide-related education initiatives and mental health care for nurses are problematic. The situation is likely related to the fact that there are no formal systems in place for identifying and evaluating the psychological effects of patient suicide in nurses and to the pressures stemming from the public perception of nurses as suppliers rather than recipients of health care.