NURSES want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely.
They say people determined to harm themselves should be helped to minimise the risk of infection from dirty blades, in the same way as drug addicts are issued with clean needles.
This could include giving the “self-harm” patients sterile blades and clean packets of bandages or ensuring that they keep their own blades clean. Nurses would also give patients advice about which parts of the body it is safer to cut.
The proposal for “safe” self-harm — which is to be debated at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in April — is likely to provoke controversy.
At present nurses are expected to stop anyone doing physical harm to themselves and to confiscate any sharp objects ranging from razor blades to broken glass and tin cans.
However, Ian Hulatt, mental health adviser for the RCN, said: “There is a clear comparison with giving clean needles to reduce HIV. We will be debating introducing a similar harm-reduction approach. This may well include the provision of clean dressing packs and it may mean providing clean ‘sharps’.
“Nurses who encounter individuals who self-harm on a regular basis face a dilemma. Do they go for prohibition? Or do we allow this to occur in a way that minimises harm?”
Hulatt admitted there would be significant opposition: “Some nurses will not support this because our code of practice says we should not do patients any harm. But this may be less harmful than patients using dirty implements. There are mental health units that already allow the use of sterile implements.”
By the same logic, we should be assisting Iran in its suicidal (and homicidal) quest for nuclear weapons. Wouldn't want the poor dears to accidentally cause damage to themselves, after all.
Saner minds might contend that this is a rather egregious example of "enabling"; that it is compassionate idiocy; and once again, it is designed to prevent those who indulge in such acting out from having to deal with the consequences--or take any responsibility for their behavior.
One patient says that the harm (cutting herself) releases her "unbearable tension". Perhaps we should be providing her with alcohol or drugs to release that "unbearable tension", as well as clean sharps? Why not incarcerate her spouse (who probably doesn't understand her) to release that unbearable tension? Or beat up the parents/friends etc. etc. she's so angry with? Her "unbearable tension" is what counts. She needn't learn to live with it, or....god forbid, try to find a more rational manner of dealing with it than harming herself regularly.
Pardon me while I go puke -- to release my own unbearable tension. I think I can expect that the State will immediately hire out a maid service to clean up the mess for me.