Curriculum for Bedside Nurses Caring for the Psychiatric Patient with Suicidal Ideation

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Patricia Ratliff, MSN1
Tracy Cimas, ASN2
Pam Dulin, MSN1
1Center for Nursing Education, Florida Hospital, Orlando, FL
2Medical Specialty Unit, Florida Hospital, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify suicidal ideation in a patient admitted under a Baker or Marchman Act.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to recognize suicidal warning signs and initiate appropriate nursing interventions.

Curriculum for Bedside Nurses Caring for the Psychiatric Patient with Suicidal Ideation

In the United States, suicide is ranked as the eleventh leading cause of death. Globally, there is a suicidal death every 40 seconds (World Health Organization, 2009). According to the World Health Organization (2009), mental disorders (particularly depression and alcoholism) are a major risk factor for European and North American suicides. A psychiatric diagnosis increases this risk factor, as much as 95% in some studies (Soreff, 2009). A diagnosis of a mental illness includes depression, schizophrenia, substance abuse, delirium, dementia, and bipolar illnesses. This presentation will describe the curriculum developed for bedside nurses caring for patients admitting under a Baker or Marchman Act who are at high risk for suicide. The curriculum that was developed has three phases: basic education on mental illness, recognizing suicidal warning signs, and nursing interventions. Education was delivered via self learning packets, case studies, and computer modules. In the first phase, the nurse is educated on basic definitions of mental illness. The second phase of education focuses on recognition of suicidal warning signs. Research links acute suicidal ideation with specific signs and symptoms, such as isolation and depression (Deakin, Hermes, Robinson, 2009). In the third phase, nursing interventions for the suicidal patient are addressed. This portion of education is inclusive of recognizing patient escalation, de-escalation skills, and patient safety. This program curriculum offers a mechanism for nurses to safely care for a psychiatric patient with suicidal ideation.

Soreff, S. (2009). Suicide. Retrieved December 7, 2009, from

World Health Organization. (2009). Suicide Prevention. Retrieved December 7, 2009, from 

Deakin, K., Hermes, B., Lee, K., Robinson, S. (2009). Suicide assessment: 6 steps to a better instrument. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health. v 47,             p 44-50