About 90 percent of nurses at the national referral hospital lack any kind of training related to suicide, although nurses with past caring experience of suicidal patients and trainings showed better knowledge and attitude towards suicidal patients.

Clinical nurse with Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), Zimba Letho shared this finding from his thesis at the 3rd international conference on medical and health sciences yesterday in Thimphu. His study included 216 nurses of JDWNRH.

Zimba Letho said that nurses with training or education related to suicide showed positive attitude towards patients showing suicidal behaviour. “Only 10.2 percent, 22 nurses of the 216 who availed training or education related to suicide showed positive attitude.”

The study showed that 89.9 percent of the nurses didn’t receive any kind of training related to management of suicidal patients. It also revealed that 56 percent of nurses had no past caring experiences of managing suicidal patients.

Zimba Letho said that those who had personally cared for suicidal patients also showed positive attitude towards patients. “95 out of 216 nurses reported of having past caring experience of suicidal patient and subsequently obtained higher mean score of attitude compared to nurses who never had past caring experience.”

Junior nurses were found to have better knowledge and showed positive attitude towards suicidal patients. This could be due to nursing education where educators deliver knowledge in terms of mental health and suicide in particular. “Younger nurses are also more familiar with using media and recent technology to obtain knowledge, which may include suicide as well,” he said.

It added that the junior nurses would have more direct patient care and senior nurses were more likely to spend time for management. “It also seems that younger nurses directly involved with attempted suicide care are more empathetic, and potentially more enthusiastic with their work, less tired or burnt out compared to older nurses who had been repeatedly caring for attempted suicide patients in busy nursing wards for many years.”

Zimba Letho said that because nurses with past caring experience and trainings show better attitude towards suicidal patients, the capacity of nurses need to be built.

Participants at the conference suggested that the figures shown in reports and studies should be considered to address the problems of suicide. The two-day health conference ended yesterday.

Phurpa Lhamo