California nurse dies by suicide while on shift in emergency room

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Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in 2014 (Source: Ted Eytan via Flickr)

A nurse at Kaiser’s Santa Clara Medical Center died by suicide this week while at work in the emergency room. Sources told NBC Bay Area that the nurse brought a loaded gun to work and on Wednesday night tragically shot and killed himself halfway through his shift.

The nurse has not yet been named, but reports by colleagues on social media confirm the nurse carried out the suicide in the supply room while he was on shift, and that the event took place in front of a coworker. Kaiser reported that during the investigation ambulances were diverted to nearby hospitals while the ER remained open for walk-in patients.

The suicide took place as 5,000 nurses at Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital are on strike in the San Francisco Bay area. These nurses are fighting for safe staffing, wage increases, safer working conditions and mental health services. They are leading a counteroffensive after years of burnout and overwork in the country’s hospital system which has left countless nurses and health care workers overwhelmed.

News of the horrific suicide has sent shock throughout health care workers, which many are referring to as “yet another” on-shift nurse suicide.

One nurse who works at Kaiser Santa Clara told the WSWS that “Kaiser is notoriously bad with their mental health services, so this is obviously not a good look for them. Nothing will change. Nurses are burnt out and COVID highlighted how undervalued our labor is and we are nothing but a commodity to hospitals. The sad thing is his colleagues will feel his loss deeply but Kaiser will have his shift filled before his body is in the ground without addressing the bigger issue which is their abysmal mental health services for their patients and staff.”

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