The Impacts of Working with People Experiencing Suicidal Ideation: Mental Health Nurses Describe Their Experience
New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and mental health nurses are the most likely professionals to assess a person presenting with suicidal ideation. Managing a suicidal crisis is acknowledged as being one of the most difficult and frightening challenges facing mental health professionals. This research aimed to have mental health nurses who work in acute mental health settings describe the impact that working with people experiencing suicidal ideation has on their personal and professional lives. This study followed the tenets of fundamental qualitative description as presented by Sandelowski (2000). Five mental health nurses participated in individual semi structured interviews. The data collected under-went systematic thematic analysis and the extracted findings were presented as a straight description. The findings from this study revealed that personal philosophies of care, the work place culture, organisational and professional expectations and their personal concepts about suicide all influenced the experiences of these participants. Mental exhaustion, tension and feelings of isolation and alienation from family and society were universal experiences. Two recommendations have been made based on the insights gained from this research. These are; tertiary institutions should offer post graduate studies on the subject of suicide as it relates to mental health nursing and national guidelines for the provision of supervision to mental health nurses need to be developed.