A traumatic, virtually overwhelming experience is dealing with the aftermath of a suicide. Survivors of suicide loss, including friends and family, can be left in this position. In addition, landlords and property managers can also face a situation involving the need for suicide cleanup. There are five key guidelines that you need to bear in mind when it comes to undertaking a safe, effective suicide cleanup. Following the presentation of these guidelines, a number of other thoughts are presented for your consideration if you find yourself facing the prospect of suicide cleanup.
A crucial element of suicide cleanup is ensuring that appropriate safety protocols are followed. The reality is that the scene of a suicide can be contaminated by blood and other bodily fluids. For example, if a suicide involved a firearm or blade of some type, the scene will be contaminated by blood and other bodily fluids. There can be dangerous pathogens at the scene of these types of suicides. These can include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
A primary safety protocol associated with suicide cleanup is the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. This needs to be personal protective equipment that specifically is designed to use in dealing with biohazards. The basic personal protective equipment that must be used in a suicide cleanup includes:
- Respirator or mask
- Smock or uniform
- Protective eyewear
- Shoe covering
A primary element of suicide cleanup is the removal of biological matter at the scene as well as items that have been contaminated by biomatter. For example, a suicide scene can be contaminated by blood. The blood itself needs to be removed from the scene as does any item that has been contaminated by the blood (or other bodily fluids).
This biowaste collected at the scene needs to be stowed in appropriate biohazard bags or containers. These must be containers that are specifically designed to store biohazardous waste. In addition, these containers must be duly marked with the universal biohazard warning symbol.
In addition to removing biowaste from the scene, the contaminated area is then thoroughly scrubbed. This process eliminates any remaining biomatter contaminating the scene and objects in it.
Disinfection or Sanitization of the Scene
When it comes to the guidelines for suicide cleanup, disinfection or sanitization, disinfection or sanitization is crucial. Medical-grade agents are used to kill any bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that may be present at the scene. This step is vital to ensure that the site of a suicide is returned to a habitable or usable condition.
Decontaminate Reusable Equipment
You may use some items in the suicide cleanup process that are reusable. Before you stow these items away, you must make absolutely certain that these items are decontaminated. This is accomplished by using a sanitization agent akin to what you used to sanitize the scene of the death itself.
Ideally, you are best served using as many items as possible that are certified for biohazard cleanup, but that are disposable. These disposal items can be placed in a biohazard waste container.
Physical and Mental/Emotional Health Protection
If any exposed part of your body comes into contact with biological matter or anything that has been contaminated, you need to thoroughly wash that area. If you’ve some sort of wound or cut on your body that comes into contact with biological material (like blood or other bodily fluids), you need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately. You do need to wash the exposed area and apply an appropriate sanitizing product, if one is available.
You need to give serious consideration to the true challenges that are associated with undertaking suicide cleanup on your own. The reality is that the suicide of a loved one can result in intense grief and a very difficult bereavement process. You can significantly compound that grief process by electing to personally undertake suicide cleanup in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one at his or her own hand.
With this in mind, you need to seriously consider engaging the services of a skilled, experienced, compassionate suicide cleanup professional to address the remediation of the scene of the death. Not only does a professional have the background, equipment, and resources necessary to thoroughly and safely cleanup the aftermath of a suicide, you are spared the emotional challenges associated with undertaking this process on your own.
You may also want to seek out personal professional assistance or emotional support of some sort for yourself. For example, there are support groups designed specifically for survivors of suicide loss. In addition, there are talented grief counselors that have extensive backgrounds in working with people who’ve lost a family member or friend to suicide. Engaging this type of assistance can be invaluable in working through the post-suicide grief process.