Understanding the general facts and statistics about suicide is important. With that recognized, a person comes to a better understanding of suicide and suicide cleanup in Los Angeles by considering a specific incident. This provides a level of personalization that can be lacking when an individual is considering statistics and hard facts. Although important statistics are presented in a moment, here is a specific story about suicide and suicide cleanup in Los Angeles.

Jane Fonda Opens up About Her Mother’s Suicide

As this article about suicide cleanup in Los Angeles was being researched, news media announced that actress Jane Fonda opened up for the first time about the suicide of her mother. Jane Fonda is the daughter of iconic actor Henry Fonda and Frances Seymour Fonda.

Jane Fonda revealed that her mother suffered from bipolar disorder. In 1950, when Jane was 12, her mother was hospitalized at a mental health institution. While at the hospital, Frances Fonda took her life by slitting her throat.

Henry Fonda decided to tell his children Jane and her brother Peter Fonda, that their mother had a heart attack and died. The ruse was short-lived because Jane quickly learned her mother committed suicide when reading a movie magazine.

Jane Fonda shared how devastating the loss of a family member to suicide is, particularly in the case of a child losing her mother. “As a child, you always think it was your fault (the suicide of a parent) because the child can’t blame the adult. They depend on the adult for survival. It takes a long time to get over the guilt.”

In addition to the evident emotional toll that suicide has on family members, another overwhelming challenge exists in the aftermath of suicides undertaken by firearms or knives, as was the case with the self-inflicted death of Jane Fonda’s mother. The family shoulders the responsibility for suicide cleanup in Los Angeles. As is discussed in further detail shortly, the fact that surviving family members bear responsibility for cleaning up after a suicide, that does not mean that they have to undertake the highly challenging task on their own.

The Incidence of Suicide in Los Angeles

Suicide is a major health issue in the City and County of Los Angeles. On average, two Los Angeles residents take their lives each day in LA. The number of people who commit suicide in Los Angeles outpaces deaths from drug overdoses, car crashes, and homicides. The rates of these types of deaths in LA during the last year a full set of statistics is available are:

  • Suicides – 779
  • Drug overdoses – 758
  • Car crash fatalities – 711
  • Homicides – 564

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Los Angeles suicide rate is lower than California as well as the national averages.

The most common ways in which Los Angelenos take their lives are:

  • Overdose with medication
  • Firearm
  • Knife
  • Hanging
  • Jumping
  • Drowning

There are other suicide statistics that help put this manner of death into perspective. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 45,000 people in the country take their own lives each year. That amounts to about 125 suicides daily. White males account for approximately 70 percent of all suicides. Another shocking statistic is that for every successful suicide, 25 people attempt to take their lives.

A person in a crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Depending on the manner of suicide, and where it occurred, a difficult process of suicide cleanup can follow the actual incident. Indeed, there are a number of activities that follow in the immediate aftermath of a Los Angeles suicide.

The Direct Aftermath of a Traumatic or Violent Suicide

Suicides by firearm or knife can be classified as violent when contrasted with those undertaken by ingesting an overdose of medication. By violent or traumatic it is meant that a particular suicide results in the discharge of blood, bodily fluids, and other biological materials into the death scene. Jumping and hanging (in some cases) can also result in a death scene being contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, and other biological materials.

When a residential space becomes contaminated as a result of a suicide, that death typically occurred because of the use of a firearm or knife. In a limited number of cases, a suicide that occurs in a residence is not immediately discovered. This can technically be classified as an unattended death by suicide. An unattended death is one in which a person dies alone and his or her remains are not discovered promptly. Days, weeks, or even months can pass from the time of the suicide until the body is discovered.

Because time has passed, and due to the nature of the human decomposition process, an unattended death scene can be contaminated heavily with dangerous pathogens, both in liquid and gaseous forms. Dangerous pathogens potentially associated with suicide death scenes are discussed in greater detail in a moment.

When a suicide occurs in a residence in Los Angeles, the first step that must be taken is the notification of the Los Angeles Police Department. When a Los Angeles suicide occurs, the police must come to the scene to confirm that the death was in fact self-inflicted. There are situations when homicides occur and are made to look like suicides to shield the perpetrator from law enforcement.

The Los Angeles Coroner is also brought to the scene of a suicide. The Coroner also participates in the investigation of the death scene to confirm that suicide did occur. The Coroner will transport the remains from the premises for further forensic evaluation and a possible autopsy. The Coroner typically finishes the forensic evaluation and autopsy within 24 to 48 hours.

The death scene, indeed the entire premises, can be sealed off to family members and others during the investigation by the police and Coroner. Only when that process is over will these officials “release” the residence (or business) back to owners.

When the Coroner notifies the family that the process is complete they have 72 hours to have the remains transported to a funeral home. Plans can be made with a funeral home to transport the remains while the forensics investigation is underway.

One relatively common misunderstanding regarding suicide cleanup involves who is responsible for the task. Many people understandably presume that the police, the Coroner, or some other governmental agency undertakes suicide cleanup in Los Angeles. The truth of the matter is that when a suicide occurs in a private residence or at a business, the home or business owner bears responsibility for suicide cleanup, which is also known as biohazard remediation.

Undertaking Suicide Cleanup in Los Angeles

Securing the Suicide Scene

The first step in undertaking suicide cleanup in Los Angeles, after law enforcement and the Coroner depart, is cordoning off the death scene. Because a suicide by firearm, knife, and some other manners results in the expulsion of blood, bodily fluids, and other biological matter, a person exposed to the suicide scene run the risk of being infected with one type of dangerous pathogen or another.

The types of pathogens that potentially can be present at a blood-contaminated scene include:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • MRSA
  • Other viruses and bacteria

Keep in mind that the possibility exists for exposure to other types of hazardous pathogens as well. These can include viruses and bacteria that may not have previously been an issue.

Proper Personal Protective Equipment

A key element of suicide cleanup in Los Angeles is ensuring that those involved in the remediation process don appropriate personal protective equipment. At a minimum, required gear includes:

  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Apron, smock, or uniform

These various items must be designed to be used specifically in a situation involving biohazard remediation.

The Stages of Biohazard Remediation in a Suicide Cleanup in Los Angeles

Professional suicide cleanup in Los Angeles typically is undertaken in four stages. These are:

  • Initial suicide scene cleanup. This involves the removal of biological materials as well as items that have been contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, and other biomaterials.
  • Sanitization. This stage involves the sanitization of the scene to remove all harmful pathogens.
  • Deodorization. Depending on the circumstances surrounding suicide, the scene can be contaminated with foul odors that must be eliminated.
  • Restoration. The ultimate objective is to restore a home to a habitable condition and a business to a useable one.

The Importance of Considering Engaging a Suicide Cleanup Professional in Los Angeles

In the aftermath of a suicide, serious consideration should be given to engaging the services of a suicide cleanup professional in Los Angeles. There is a trio of reasons why hiring a suicide cleanup professional should be contemplated:

  • Safety
  • Thoroughness
  • Emotional considerations

The safety risks that inherently are associated with biohazard remediation have been discussed previously. Professionals are literally better equipped to protect themselves against exposure to biohazardous substances during the course of a suicide cleanup process.

In addition, professionals are best able to ensure that a suicide cleanup process is comprehensive and thorough. The ultimate objective of restoring a property to livability or usability is best-achieved thanks to the efforts of an experienced, tenacious professional.

Finally, a person or family that loses a loved one to suicide faces tremendous grief and other emotions. The emotions associated with the suicide of a loved one can be extremely profound and pervasive. Taking on the task of personally cleaning up a suicide scene can magnify the emotional and psychological response to this type of death manifold.

Bereavement and Grief Therapy and Counseling in Los Angeles

The loss of a family member or other loved one by suicide can prove to be utterly devastating. As a result, a person may benefit from enlisting the assistance of a Los Angeles grief therapist. A bereavement and grief counselor or therapist can assist a person in accessing different types of support and treatment modalities that include:

  • Group grief therapy
  • Individual grief therapy
  • Medication support through a psychiatric referral

The first step in enlisting professional assistance is scheduling an initial consultation. There typically is no charge for an initial appointment. Experienced grief therapists and counselors in Los Angeles include:

Through the Woods Therapy Center
660 South Figueroa Street, 
Suite 1710
Los Angeles, California 90017
(213) 634-1627

Darrel Slack
10350 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300
Los Angeles, California 90025
(424) 351-9686

Stan Friedman
1575 Westwood Boulevard, Suite 205
Los Angeles, California 90024
(310) 422-3761

Veronica Holmes
111 North La Brea Avenue, Suite 308
Inglewood, California 90301
(323) 744-4882