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Self-Injury and the Emergency Room

I recently read an article written from the perspective of an individual who self-injures entitled "Getting It Right: Caring for People Who Self-Harm". The article is written by Alice Tate, and it appeared in the journal Emergency Nurse. In the article, Tate describes the compassionate care she received from the ER department one evening when she needed to have her the cuts on her arms tended to. She compares the stellar jobs of the nurses and doctors that evening to the treatment she had received in the past that she found very stressful. What made this trip so meaningful to Alice was that the staff listened to her and treated her with respect and dignity. As she goes through each step in the ER (check in, nurse's station, seeing the doctor etc.) she gives each person a gold star as they do the "right" thing and explains why it is right. What Tate describes in this article is sadly rare, as a lot of the time youth who self-injure report they are not treated as well at the ER as those whose injuries are accidental.

Reflecting on this article caused me to consider how it is we too can give the quality of care that Alice received in the ER that night to self-injuring youth in our own spiritual care settings? I would encourage you if you have some time to read the article (its short, only 2 pages!) and reflect on what she has to say about her experience. It was very moving for me.

If you would like to check out Tate's article, here's the citation info: Tate, Alice. “Getting It Right: Caring for People Who Self-Harm.” Emergency Nurse : The Journal of the RCN Accident and Emergency Nursing Association 18, no. 6 (October 1, 2010): 32.

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