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I'm hoping I can pick your collective brains on a question. Can you provide tips we should all know or think about when responding to an attempted suicide?

Example-when finding someone hanging don't cut the rope at the knot because it might be a coroners inquest and the knot could be forensic evidence.


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Make sure the scene is safe first. Are you sure it is a suicide and not a homicide? The pt is your primary concern not forensics. You should still try to remove the pt from the scene as quick as possible to minimize damage to the scene. Save anything you take off the pt. The noose is interfering with the airway, get it off however you can.

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generally speaking: if you are responding to a hanging the Pt will be gone long before you arrive on scene if they are still hanging.

Now if you are talking about asphyxia sexual games then that's a little different as they don't usually tie a correct hangmans knot which crushes the trachea, it 's more of a squeezing of the carotids effect to cause them to black out.

Yes : I've responded to many over my career of both types and they are usually coroners cases

It seems to have been more prevalent during the late 90's and 2000's in younger folks, than in previous decades.

If you believe they are not deceased then it will be easier to cut away from the know anyway. Less rope to cut through.

If they show signs & symptoms such as lividity or rigor then just walk away & wait for law enforcement , it is a crime scene.

Edited by island emt
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Your safety is priority, then the patient care.

I'm cognizent about not disrupting the scene but the cops (detectives) are competent enough at their jobs to determine what disturbances to the scene you did and what others did.

Be prepared to outline your actions at the scene to the detectives, they will ask.

DON'T cut through any holes in clothing

Use latex gloves and your fingerprints will not be left, but remember that the latex gloves can and will smudge actual fingerprints.

My best advice is if the patient is dead, leave em be, get your monitor tracing and get out.

If the patient is still alive, then get them out in the way that least disturbs the scene.

But again, YOU are not a cop, nor a detective and definately NOT Sherlock Holmes, your job is to take care of the patient.

But remember, what you see can help the cops, so keep an eye out for things that just don't look right.

And finally, this and above all things, some suicides are homicides and the assailant might just still be there and if you keep him from doing his "job" you might be a victim as well. Let the cops clear the scene first.

Oh and one final thing, someone committing suicide for real, not a gesture, may just really really get pissed at you in your attempt to keep them from killing themselves and you may become a victim as well.

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OK now that I see the rest of your Questions in the title...

Cutters rarely need any medical treatment other than cursory covering the the slices to keep them clean. Cutting is a cry for help: " to notice me, I'm hurting myself"

We had one cutter that was a daily occurrence for several months and finally got to the point we said just come by the station if you need to talk to someone.

They did regularly after that and the cutting slowed enough that person was able to go to college and get a degree in psychiatry.

Jumpers are ones that will usually allow them selves to be talked down. Serious mental health issues going on there.

postpartum depression brings on the ones who drive their kids into the lake in a final act of depression.

All of the above are facets of mental heath issues that you can never truly understand the" why "

Yes they treat chemical imbalances with medications , But WHY do some folks go through life and then suddenly decide to kill them selves???

I don't think anyone here really has that answer.

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