We use the term “suicidal ideation” to describe frequent thoughts about suicide, especially for those at risk. But tossing in a clinical word like “ideation” has a way of sanitizing the term and drawing attention away from its core essence: Circumstances in someone’s life can be so challenging, difficult, or dire that they are thinking about suicide.
We know that workplace bullying can be associated with suicidal thoughts. Not every instance, thank goodness, but in some instances, yes. In fact, earlier this week, Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute shared this comment, publicly posted to the WBI site, from a nurse who attempted suicide after experiencing a prolonged course of workplace mistreatment.
I’m an RN, I resigned unwillingly Sept.18 from the Veterans Affair. Its difficult for me to determine if I was experiencing bullying, harassment and or discrimination but the end result an attempt to end my life July, 30th, 2015, spending 12 days in the hospital.
I was diagnosed with PTSD and medicated for nightmares while hospitalized. I’m or I was a well functioning Bipolar II. I endured (from a newly arrived nurse manager, moreover the was not my manager) bullying/harassment for 14 months,mid Jan 2014-Mar 2015 and on March 26th 2015 – June 17th she and another official came at me with a vengeance. On June 16th 2015, around 4:30 pm after entering human resources and reading false accusations, a co-worker’s description of me and a sticky on top of the charges “AL, can we ask for fitness of duty, reprimand or suspension” (I had no write-ups prior to these false charges) I started crying, I was devastated, shocked.
. . . I can’t believe or comprehend these unfathomable events, I’m lost. How can this all be happening. I suffered/suffer fear, anxiety, terror, pain, uselessness, worthlessness, impending doom, shame and guilt!!!!!!. My livelihood was taken from me.
There are at least two important points worth drawing from this personal account. First, while suicidal thoughts usually cannot be traced to a single factor, severe bullying and mistreatment at work can be among the causes. Second, we must continue to pay close attention to worklife matters in healthcare workplaces, too many of which are stressful, dysfunctional places to earn a living.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about the healthcare workplace and about suicide. Here are some pieces if you would like to learn more:
Suicide prevention resource in the U.S.
If you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached around the clock at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In addition, you can go to a hospital emergency room and ask for help.
Targets of workplace bullying may consider confidential coaching by telephone offered by the Workplace Bullying Institute through Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed counselor and WBI’s professional coach. For more information, including availability and rates, go here. You may find helpful this article about her work in Counseling Today.
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