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View Full Version : Cutting your wrists (a lot of questions)



SaveitForaRainyDay
05-20-2016, 12:48 AM
Hey, I'm doing some research for a story regarding mental health. I know the emotional aspects from experience and a lot of research. But what I don't know are the physical things. So I have a few questions that I'd be grateful for people to answer.

Before hospital:

How long would it take for someone to bleed out by cutting their wrists vertically? How soon would they have to be found? Like, if they called a friend before doing it, how quickly would the friend have to get there? Once there, when the friend calls for an ambulance, how quickly would the response be? What would the paramedics do then, would they load the person onto a stretcher, try to stitch up their wounds? Would the friend be capable of riding in the ambulance, or would they have to find their own transport?

At the hospital:

If the person was unconscious, what would they do? Would there be any chance of them being saved? How soon after would the friend hear the status of the person? How long would they remain in a general hospital afterward? I guess they would instantly be transferred to a psychiatric hospital afterward?

Sorry I didn't realise I had so many questions! Most of this is just out of curiosity. I have done research on this, but I can't find the specifics that I'm looking for. I'd really appreciate the help.

King Neptune
05-20-2016, 02:12 AM
I think that google would help you very much.

MDSchafer
05-20-2016, 03:01 AM
If the person was unconscious, what would they do? Would there be any chance of them being saved? How soon after would the friend hear the status of the person? How long would they remain in a general hospital afterward? I guess they would instantly be transferred to a psychiatric hospital afterward?

So, if they're unconscious consent is assumed. As long as she was breathing she would be scooped up and brought to a trauma center, and if they coded they would perform CPR. The fact that they may have attempted suicide is beyond the point.

After she was stable she'd be transferred to a floor or a ICU if she needed that much level of care. In Georgia she'd be held under what's called a 10-13, which is psych hold that last 72 hours. After that an attending MD can sign a 10-14, or 20-14 hold, which I think last another 72 hours. Neither counts weekends btw, so if your hold starts at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday the clock doesn't start until Monday. After than you can do 10-21 hold, which you have to go to court for and last for 21 days (I think). 10-13 holds are fairly common and require a sitter to watch the patient 24 hours a day.

Typically a general hospital will transfer a suicide attempt to the pysch floor or a outside facility as soon as they're stable.

As far as the friend finding out it varies. Some hospitals automatically make suicide attempts confidential because of the stigma attached to suicide attempts, and because some suicides are murders staged to look like suicides, so unless the patient explicitly says, "I want this person to be updated," they won't get any information. If we have a confidential patient that they won't be able to even confirm that the person is a patient at the hospital.

SaveitForaRainyDay
05-20-2016, 11:09 AM
I think that google would help you very much.

I have googled, but I can only find some vague answers about how long it takes. I already know what a person would do to save them in this situation, I just don't know how the health services would react, which is what I'm curious about.


So, if they're unconscious consent is assumed. As long as she was breathing she would be scooped up and brought to a trauma center, and if they coded they would perform CPR. The fact that they may have attempted suicide is beyond the point.

After she was stable she'd be transferred to a floor or a ICU if she needed that much level of care. In Georgia she'd be held under what's called a 10-13, which is psych hold that last 72 hours. After that an attending MD can sign a 10-14, or 20-14 hold, which I think last another 72 hours. Neither counts weekends btw, so if your hold starts at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday the clock doesn't start until Monday. After than you can do 10-21 hold, which you have to go to court for and last for 21 days (I think). 10-13 holds are fairly common and require a sitter to watch the patient 24 hours a day.

Typically a general hospital will transfer a suicide attempt to the pysch floor or a outside facility as soon as they're stable.

As far as the friend finding out it varies. Some hospitals automatically make suicide attempts confidential because of the stigma attached to suicide attempts, and because some suicides are murders staged to look like suicides, so unless the patient explicitly says, "I want this person to be updated," they won't get any information. If we have a confidential patient that they won't be able to even confirm that the person is a patient at the hospital.

Thank you so much! This is really detailed and helpful.

So if the patient was unconscious, and the friend came to the hospital, would that mean that they wouldn't find out any information at all regarding their status? Family would, though, wouldn't they?

MDSchafer
05-21-2016, 09:44 PM
So if the patient was unconscious, and the friend came to the hospital, would that mean that they wouldn't find out any information at all regarding their status? Family would, though, wouldn't they?

Honestly, it depends on if the patient regains consciousness or not. Ideally the patient comes to, hasn't suffered any sort of brain injury, and can tell you who they want contacted or not. Often times with suicide patients family is a touchy issue, so I'm going to hold back almost everything until the patient says they want that specific person to know, and then only tell them what the patient wants them to know.

When they're unconscious it's a lot more murky. You don't know what role family members played in this person's life and there's a chance they were an abuser, or an instigator of the suicide attempt. The last thing you would want to do to an unconscious person recovering for a suicide is to give their abusive spouse access to the patient and medical information. Typically the stalling tactic is to say, "The doctor will have to speak to you," which is sorta true, and buys us time because people understand docs are busy. It also gives us time to go the doc and brief her on the situation so you can make a team decision.

I never tell anyone it was a suicide attempt, even when someone shoots themselves in the head. I hope no nurse would. I don't know how many hospitals make suicide attempt patients "No-Info" but I don't think it's the majority. If the cops tell us that they suspect foul play, as a rule we wouldn't give information to anyone if the cops suspect family might be involved. They would have to go through the police for that person's protection.

Trebor1415
05-23-2016, 08:10 AM
Do you want the person to live or die?

If you want them to die, have them do the vertical cut, and not be found until after they have suffered severe blood loss and have rescue attempts fail.

If you want them to live, either have them cut horizontally (which isn't as bad) which gives you more time to play with story wise, or if they do the cut vertically, have them found VERY QUICKLY afterwards. Like within five minutes, before they bleed out. And this assumes they cut a vein, and not an artery.

Paramedics aren't going to stitch them up. They will put on a torniquet between the wound and the heart. It will be tight and it will be painful, but it will stop the blood loss long enough to get them to the hospital where they will be evaluated in the ER, sent to surgery as needed, etc. Torniquests are again becoming standard equipment

You could also have the person who finds them apply a makeshift torniquet using their belt or something, if you can justify that person having the knowledge of what to do.

Other thoughts: Have the friend immediately call 911 from their current location. If you need them to stay on the phone with the victim for a plot point have them have access to another phone. The friend could then race their and get their right before or after the paramedics, whatever you need for the story. If you wait to have the friend get the call, drive over, find the person, and then call 911, and then wait for the ambulance, yeah, your character would have died.

As to response time? Probably the minimum is 10 minutes unless they live across the street from the fire department. It really depends on the area. You can always justify longer response time story wise but justifying quicker takes some doing.

SaveitForaRainyDay
05-23-2016, 04:15 PM
Do you want the person to live or die?

If you want them to die, have them do the vertical cut, and not be found until after they have suffered severe blood loss and have rescue attempts fail.

If you want them to live, either have them cut horizontally (which isn't as bad) which gives you more time to play with story wise, or if they do the cut vertically, have them found VERY QUICKLY afterwards. Like within five minutes, before they bleed out. And this assumes they cut a vein, and not an artery.

Paramedics aren't going to stitch them up. They will put on a torniquet between the wound and the heart. It will be tight and it will be painful, but it will stop the blood loss long enough to get them to the hospital where they will be evaluated in the ER, sent to surgery as needed, etc. Torniquests are again becoming standard equipment

You could also have the person who finds them apply a makeshift torniquet using their belt or something, if you can justify that person having the knowledge of what to do.

Other thoughts: Have the friend immediately call 911 from their current location. If you need them to stay on the phone with the victim for a plot point have them have access to another phone. The friend could then race their and get their right before or after the paramedics, whatever you need for the story. If you wait to have the friend get the call, drive over, find the person, and then call 911, and then wait for the ambulance, yeah, your character would have died.

As to response time? Probably the minimum is 10 minutes unless they live across the street from the fire department. It really depends on the area. You can always justify longer response time story wise but justifying quicker takes some doing.

Thanks, this is really informative!

You say fire department, would they also come with the ambulance? I assumed only the ambulance would be capable of doing anything? (Sorry if this sounds really stupid! This isn't a point in my story, I'm just curious.) The MCs friend lives a drive away from his house, but he's serious about suicide, so he'd have cut vertically. I guess I'll have him call before getting to the house.

Esmae Tyler
05-23-2016, 05:15 PM
Thanks, this is really informative!

You say fire department, would they also come with the ambulance? I assumed only the ambulance would be capable of doing anything? (Sorry if this sounds really stupid! This isn't a point in my story, I'm just curious.) The MCs friend lives a drive away from his house, but he's serious about suicide, so he'd have cut vertically. I guess I'll have him call before getting to the house.

In a lot of areas, emergency medical services are attached to fire stations. Where I live, the ambulance is usually parked with the fire trucks until it's needed, and a lot of the EMTs are also firemen. (Not so much the paramedics, who are usually hired by a paid ambulance service.) What often happens in my area is that 911 will transmit the pertinent information about the call (location, a very brief and VERY neutral description) to both levels of EMS (basic EMTs and paramedics). Those who live close to the fire house will drive there and hop on the ambulance; those that live closer to the address they're given, or more than about 5 minutes from the station, will just drive straight to the address. Sometimes the paramedics get there first; sometimes the local ambulance does; sometimes a first responder EMT will be first on the scene.

Basic treatment is pretty much the same either way: they'll do whatever they can to get the bleeding to stop and then try to get out as soon as humanly possible.

If you really want it to be an emergency, and you want to escalate the drama, you can have the friend who finds this person wrap them up quick and put them in their OWN car and try to intercept the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Trebor1415
05-23-2016, 10:23 PM
In a lot of areas, emergency medical services are attached to fire stations. Where I live, the ambulance is usually parked with the fire trucks until it's needed, and a lot of the EMTs are also firemen. (Not so much the paramedics, who are usually hired by a paid ambulance service.) What often happens in my area is that 911 will transmit the pertinent information about the call (location, a very brief and VERY neutral description) to both levels of EMS (basic EMTs and paramedics). Those who live close to the fire house will drive there and hop on the ambulance; those that live closer to the address they're given, or more than about 5 minutes from the station, will just drive straight to the address. Sometimes the paramedics get there first; sometimes the local ambulance does; sometimes a first responder EMT will be first on the scene.

Basic treatment is pretty much the same either way: they'll do whatever they can to get the bleeding to stop and then try to get out as soon as humanly possible.

If you really want it to be an emergency, and you want to escalate the drama, you can have the friend who finds this person wrap them up quick and put them in their OWN car and try to intercept the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Yeah, I said fire department because in my area the local FD's run the emergency medical response services. The private ambulances are usually used for things like routine transfers betwen hospitals, etc. That's not always the case. The point is, unless the ambulance is parked right outside when the character slashes their wrists, they'll likely bleed out before the ambulance arrives