Saturday, February 11, 2012

Automatic assistance?

Several years ago, we had a call for a suicide.
Dealing with the patient was fairly simple. There wasn't anything we could do.
What was hard, was dealing with the family members.

We were pretty new, and didn't know what to say. Didn't know what to do. We didn't want to go off and leave them, but there wasn't anything in our protocols to tell us what options we had. We were aware of the local suicide prevention group, and that they offer care for survivors, but didn't really have anything to offer other than a suggestion to call them.

Since then, we've started carrying business cards with that information on them, that we could hand out if necessary.

Recently, in a town nearby, there was a suicide of a fairly young person. We didn't know the person, but several of my daughter's friends, and some of my students, did. This one hit a little closer to home, even though we didn't deal with it directly.

A question came up in discussions of it.

In this county, whenever there is a residential structure fire where the damage is enough to make the home uninhabitable, there is a system in place that calls in Red Cross volunteers to help the residents. They provide a place to stay, clothing and food if required, and a lot of information on getting help.

Why is there no such automatic process with suicides?

It seems to me that it would be a good idea to automatically call in suicide prevention volunteers, or someone else capable of helping the survivors. Someone in a position to come in, help them figure out what to do, who to call, what decisions need to be made right away. Provide information on counseling, and if necessary, on clean up. I am certain most people are not at all prepared to deal with such a thing.

Does anyone out there do this?

Any EMS agencies have someone in this position, or an SOP that calls in someone?

If so, I'd like to hear about how it's organized and how it's evaluated.


  1. When my mom was in hospice, we were given one phone number. If we needed anything, we could call and they would put us in touch with the division that could help. Stressed out? Grieving? Confused? They had departments for all of that and could connect us with somebody. It would be awesome if the same thing existed for the loved ones left behind by a suicide.

  2. We have an organization called CRISIS. Unfortunately we have found them to be a joke, So what my partner and I do is this. The person who has successfully committed suicide is not our patient. Those left behind and on scene are and we treat them as such. We stay on scene as long as needed. Find out if there is anyone we can call, clergy, family member, close friend, etc and use all the resources we would normally use related to an emotion/psyche. Sometimes simply telling them we are concerned about them and taking a set of vitals calms them and gets them talking through it. As for the clean up, suicides are technically a crime scene and I have always taken it for granted that, once done with them, the police provide information on those resources. You have brought up a good point though and I'm now going to check if that is true.