Feeling Our Way in the Dark: The Psychiatric Nursing Care of Suicidal People—A Literature Review

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Psychiatric/Mental Health nurses have a long history of being front-line carers of suicidal people, and yet the international epidemiological literature, methodological problems notwithstanding, suggests that contemporary care practices for suicidal people have much room for improvement. As a result, this paper focuses on several areas/issues of care of the suicidal person, and in so doing, critiques the extant literature, such as it is. This critique illustrates that there is a disconcerting lack of empirically induced theory to guide practice and even less empirical evidence to support-specific interventions. The paper concludes, accepting the axiomatic complexity and multi-dimensionality of suicide, and the undeniable fact that suicide is a human drama, played out in the everyday lives of people, that for Psychiatric/Mental Health nurses, caring for suicidal people must be an interpersonal endeavor; and one personified by talking and listening.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



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