Caring For Suicidal Patients: Mental Health Nurses

Caring For Suicidal Patients: Mental Health Nurses

Caring For Suicidal Patients: Mental Health Nurses

There are many factors that contribute into caring for suicidal patients. From controlling your emotions to inspiring hope to balancing emotional involvement and professional distance, it is said to be one of the most challenging jobs in nursing. In an article about mental health nurses it tells the about the challenging obstacles of taking care of mental health patients, and the stress of suicidal patients.

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Not only do these nurses try to help the patient, they can also grow close to them. So if a patient does go through with it, there are many things the nurses feel. Sadness for the lost life of this patient they had to get to know to understand, as well as guilt. They wondered if they didn’t do enough, or give the patient enough attention.

Being close to the patient and knowing the signs is a really important aspect of caring for suicidal patients. You need to be closer to a patient, more observant to noticed expressed symptoms and see the observable signs. You also may help the patient get away from the need to inflict self-harm or even the want to end their own life. In doing so, mental health nurses have to be involved with the patients while at the same time not getting too involved. Caring for these patients can drain you mentally. They have to protect themselves from getting too close so if something were to happen it isn’t as hard on them.

While they do use their observations to help, they also use their “gut-feeling”. They sensed their patients mental state and acted when they had a bad feeling. “Several of the participants believe they have saved patients by acting at the right time.” Even when wrong about your feeling, I believe it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Showing their fear and uneasiness can also project onto a patient and instill them with the same emotions they’re showing. Being the calm and confident person in the presence of an unstable person can help them calm down.


Being a mental health nurse, you’re not only caring for this patient, you could also be preventing suicide. Experienced mental health nurses are trained, and learn from experience, to be there. Not only in a health care capacity, but in an emotionally supportive way as well. No matter the amount of training, there are somethings that can’t be taught.


Hagen, J., Knizek, B. L., & Hjelmeland, H. (2017). Mental Health Nurses Experiences of Caring for Suicidal Patients in Psychiatric Wards: An Emotional Endeavor. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing,31(1), 31-37. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2016.07.018


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