Dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide is an unimaginably difficult and traumatic experience. On top of the emotional devastation, families are often faced with the grim responsibility of cleaning up the scene where the suicide took place – a distressing and potentially hazardous task.
Proper cleanup of a suicide scene involves strict guidelines and precautions to ensure safety and prevent further trauma. This article provides six key guidelines to ensure safe and proper suicide scene cleanup.
1. Contact The Authorities
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Contact The Authorities
- 2 2. Use Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- 3 3. Dispose of Biohazard Waste Properly
- 4 4. Use Effective Disinfectant Cleaning Agents
- 5 5. Decontaminate Reusable Supplies and Materials
- 6 6. Seek Medical Attention if Exposed to Biohazards
- 7 Allow Time to Grieve After Suicide Cleanup
- 8 Consider Professional Suicide Cleanup Assistance
- 9 Recap
- 10 Resources For Coping After Suicide Loss
- 11 How to Deal With the Emotional Trauma of Suicide Cleanup
- 12 Finding a Professional Suicide Cleanup Company
- 13 Paying For Suicide Cleanup Services
- 14 What To Do If You Find A Suicide Scene
- 15 Coping With The Loss Of A Loved One To Suicide
The first step is to contact the authorities to report the incident.
- Call 911 or 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to alert emergency services. Police will arrive to conduct an investigation and authorize the removal of the body by the coroner.
- Cooperate fully with law enforcement and do not touch or clean up anything until given approval to do so. Police will analyze the scene and gather evidence as part of the investigation.
- Obtain written approval from the relevant local law enforcement agency before cleaning or altering the scene in any way. This is critical from a legal standpoint.
Proper reporting and authorization from law enforcement ensure compliance with protocols and facilitate access to assistance and victim resources. It also provides legal clearance to proceed with cleaning the premises.
2. Use Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Suicide scenes may contain hazardous biofluids that can cause serious infections or diseases if there is direct contact or exposure. Anyone cleaning a suicide scene should wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent contact with blood, bodily fluids, and contaminants.
- Wear a hazmat suit or coveralls to cover your body and clothes.
- Use thick rubber gloves that cover forearms.
- Wear boots or closed shoes to protect feet.
- Use protective goggles to shield eyes from splashes.
- Wear a N95 respirator mask to prevent inhalation of aerosolized particles.
- Remove and dispose of PPE properly after use to contain biohazards.
Proper PPE prevents exposure and helps preserve personal health when cleaning potentially dangerous contamination.
3. Dispose of Biohazard Waste Properly
Suicide scenes contain biohazard materials like blood, tissue, and bodily fluids that require proper handling and disposal.
- Collect every material contaminated with biofluids in red biohazard bags that can be securely sealed.
- Contact your local waste management authority for protocols on disposing of biohazard waste.
- Use professional disinfectants to sanitize any surface stained or contaminated by biofluids.
Proper biohazard waste disposal contains contamination and protects against the spread of illness or disease.
4. Use Effective Disinfectant Cleaning Agents
Cleaning agents used at suicide scenes should be commercial-grade disinfectants designed to kill pathogens.
- Do not mix cleaning agents like bleach and ammonia, as toxic fumes can result.
- Read directions carefully and use products only as instructed.
- Clean affected areas with EPA-registered disinfectants proven to kill a broad spectrum of viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
Using the right disinfecting cleaning agents helps eliminate all hazardous contamination and restore safety.
5. Decontaminate Reusable Supplies and Materials
Any equipment, supplies, or materials used in cleaning a suicide scene may be contaminated and need proper decontamination.
- Sanitize reusable items like mops, buckets, gloves, protective wear, scrub brushes, etc. with disinfectant.
- Air dry all equipment after sanitizing to allow disinfectant to work fully.
- Discard unsalvageable or porous items like carpets, mattresses, rugs, and fabrics.
Proper decontamination of reusable supplies prevents the spread of biohazards and contamination of other areas.
6. Seek Medical Attention if Exposed to Biohazards
If you are directly exposed to any biological materials during suicide cleanup, immediately seek medical attention.
- Wash exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water.
- Look out for symptoms like fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, rashes, lesions, etc.
- Get tested and treated for potential illnesses like HIV, hepatitis, tetanus etc. based on the doctor’s evaluation.
- Consult a doctor about any accidental ingestion or wound contamination during cleanup.
Seeking immediate medical care after exposure can help prevent or treat potential infections and illnesses.
Allow Time to Grieve After Suicide Cleanup
Suicide cleanup can be mentally and emotionally devastating for survivors. After completing the process, take time to grieve and heal before resuming normal life.
- Do not rush back into work or responsibilities. Give yourself permission to process the trauma.
- Seek counseling and join suicide survivor support groups to work through grief.
- Be patient and allow yourself to mourn fully. There is no standard timeline for bereavement.
The aftermath of suicide loss needs care and time to facilitate healing. Self-care and accessing support are vital.
Consider Professional Suicide Cleanup Assistance
Specialized trauma cleanup services may be able to provide proper professional assistance with suicide scene remediation.
- Professionals are trained, equipped, and experienced in biohazard decontamination.
- They follow all protocols for lawful and safe handling of suicide scenes.
- Many companies are also skilled in managing insurance claims related to such incidents.
Professional suicide cleanup relieves families from having to undertake this difficult process themselves during traumatic times.
Cleaning up the scene after a suicide requires strict safety precautions and guidelines due to the potential biohazards. Proper cleanup containing hazardous materials is critical to avoid illness or infection following exposure. Equally important is allowing time and support for families to grieve after the traumatic loss of a loved one. Professional cleanup services can provide a necessary solution to help manage the aftermath. With care, compassion, and time, healing is possible even after a devastating tragedy.
Resources For Coping After Suicide Loss
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org – Call 1-800-273-8255
- American Foundation For Suicide Prevention – https://afsp.org
- Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors (TAPS) – https://www.taps.org
- Alliance Of Hope – https://allianceofhope.org
- Heartbeat International – https://www.heartbeatservices.org
- Ohio Cleanit – https://ohiocleanit.com/
- California Cleanit – https://californiacleanit.com/
- Illinois Cleanit – https://illinoiscleanit.com/
How to Deal With the Emotional Trauma of Suicide Cleanup
Cleaning up after a suicide can be emotionally devastating. Here are tips to cope:
- Take breaks when needed – don’t force yourself to power through nonstop.
- Surround yourself with loved ones, friends and support.
- Consider counseling to process feelings of grief, trauma, and guilt.
- Join a support group to connect with others experiencing similar loss.
- Be kind to yourself, suicide loss elicits complex emotions.
- Reflect on happy memories and the deceased’s legacy.
- Allow yourself to fully mourn – grief has no timeline.
Finding a Professional Suicide Cleanup Company
To find a qualified professional suicide cleaning service:
- Search online directories for local companies.
- Look for certifications like Crime Scene Cleanup Association.
- Read reviews to verify the quality of service.
- Evaluate experience – longevity indicates competence.
- Consider availability for rapid response.
- Check that they follow proper protocols for legal clearance.
- Get accurate quotes in writing.
Paying For Suicide Cleanup Services
There are options to pay for professional suicide cleanup:
- File claims with your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance.
- Use the deceased’s life insurance funds if you are the beneficiary.
- Pay out-of-pocket if affordable. Some companies offer payment plans.
- Seek financial assistance from victim compensation funds or nonprofit organizations.
- Crowdsource donations from community and social networks if needed.
Get multiple quotes to compare pricing, and verify insurance coverage before hiring.
What To Do If You Find A Suicide Scene
If you discover the scene of a suicide, take these steps:
- Contact 911 – do not touch or move anything until police arrive.
- Ensure your own safety – leave the area carefully if hazardous.
- Wait for law enforcement to conduct an investigation and clear the scene.
- Seek support – witnessing a traumatic scene can be deeply distressing.
- Once authorized, arrange professional cleaning as trying to clean up yourself is not advised.
Coping With The Loss Of A Loved One To Suicide
How to cope with grief after losing someone to suicide:
- Allow yourself to fully experience and process all emotions.
- Seek counseling and professional mental health support.
- Join a grief support group to share and connect with others.
- Reflect fondly on positive memories and the legacy of the deceased.
- Take care of your health – eat well, exercise, get sleep.
- Continue engaging socially and avoid isolation.
- Know that complicated grief and guilt are common responses.
- Be patient with yourself and know there is hope after tragedy.