My Sister, a Nurse, Committed Suicide

 In Nurses Weekly

Amber was a passionate nurse who worked in rehabilitation and hospice settings in addition to operating her own health care business on the side. Like many on nursing’s front lines, she burned the candle at both ends, taking care of everyone else before attending to herself. She was also in the middle of a divorce.

Six months before she took her own life, Amber had been admitted to the psychiatric ward of a health system where I was crisis director at the time. She had broken down and was experiencing rapid thoughts and paranoid delusions. While treating her, we discovered that she’d become dependent on pain medication. According to the law, that meant self-reporting to the medical board of her state and having her RN license suspended.

This was a severe blow. Her identity and self-worth were heavily wrapped in her professional standing and ability to provide for her family. The weeks following her release I saw her undertake the humbling process of an intensive outpatient program (along with meds with side effects like weight loss, nausea and restlessness) with the goal of being professionally reinstated.

Unfortunately, the anger and hopelessness of being both unemployed and feeling inadequate as a mother accelerated her downward spiral…

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