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How to Handle the Cleanup Process after a Suicide

suicide cleanup

There is nothing that is as difficult as having to deal with a suicide case in your family. It not only affects the individual who committed suicide but also people who deeply loved and cared about that person. To the family members left behind, it is the most challenging experience to go through. Trying to figure out what made the individual take his/her own life, and the fact that the loved one is no longer alive can’t be easy; it is in fact incredibly traumatic.

Now, the other traumatic and seriously problematic reality comes when it’s time to clean up after the incident. It’s a huge and unthinkable responsibility for the family especially considering that they just lost one of their own, unexpectedly. The truth is, suicide cleanup is a psychologically draining, challenging, and potentially hazardous job that should be left to the professionals. But the main question here is, how is suicide cleanup handled to guarantee safety for those left behind - whether it’s by you or the hired professionals?


Guidelines for safe suicide cleanup

The cleanup process


Guidelines for safe suicide cleanup

Besides the emotional trauma the family goes through when one of them commits suicide, there are quite a number of health hazards that they may be exposed to if the suicide scene isn’t thoroughly cleaned. The bodily fluids and components often left at the scene poses serious threats such as hepatitis and HIV viruses. This means that if you decide to clean, you really need to protect yourself from these biohazardous materials. The following guidelines will help you to keep away from any kind of infection:

  • Wear PPE (personal protective equipment) – you need to cover your entire body when handling biohazard waste materials. They can include overalls, disposable gloves, safety shoes, respirators, goggles, to name a few.
  • Use biohazard bags – when it comes to proper disposal of the contaminated materials, you will need to ensure that you do it safely and in biohazard bags that can be securely closed.
  • Use a registered disinfectant that has a broad spectrum kill claim to clean the affected area. Just ensure that the disinfectant isn’t mixed with any other cleaning agents as it will reduce its effectiveness, which is not what you want in such a scene.
  • Decontaminate all the reusable equipment. Obviously, you won’t throw away things like your buckets or brooms and any other equipment used that can be reused. So, you will need to clean and sanitise them effectively using a solution that contains a broad spectrum of kill claim.
  • In any unfortunate event, if you get exposed to any kind of biohazard waste materials, you will need to seek immediate medical attention. While you do that, you should rinse the infected area thoroughly to reduce the level of infection – as in for the infection not to spread.

    The cleanup process

    Let’s start by stating that it is not recommended for property owners or family members to carry out suicide cleaning by themselves, considering all the risks involved, especially on one’s health. This is especially true if you don’t know what you are doing. But if you are someone who is properly trained and knows what is supposed to be done, then you can take on the cleaning task. But even so, you really need to be sure that you are doing the right thing. How are you going to do that? Well, by following a specific protocol. Upon entering the suicide scene, the cleanup must follow a set of strict procedures that are designed to remove all the harmful contaminants, odours, and not forgetting the structural damage. Now, to achieve this, you need to come up with a plan, and it is in that plan that you are to establish three specific zones first, where each of them plays a specific function. These zones are:

  • Control zone – this is the zone or areas where the suicide took place and where the remediation and disinfection are supposed to take place.
  • Buffer zone – now this is the area where you put personal protective equipment and other disposal items. This area is quite critical as it’s where you keep all the crucial items you plan on using during the cleanup.
  • Clean zone – this area is like the buffer zone with the only difference being, the clean zone is where you keep all the items you don’t want to be contaminated. As the name suggest, you keep items in this zone to prevent close contamination.
  • For your cleanup process to be effective, you must establish these zones. They will ensure that the entire process flows smoothly.

    Once you established the three zones, now you can start cleaning. In your cleaning, you are to do it in three very important stages. They include:

  • Cleaning – in this stage, you are to remove all the bloodstains and any other biological dirt, materials, and chemicals from the control zone. You need to ensure that you remove everything from the scene, and thoroughly remediate the entire area. If there are items that can’t be remediated, then they become waste and should be disposed of immediately.
  • Disinfecting – at this stage, and after cleaning the scene, you will need to spray the scene with disinfectant after a certain period of time. Then wipe all the surfaces manually to ensure that you remove all the remaining bacteria and pathogens from the scene. To ensure that the scene is fully sanitised, you may want to test the area to determine the sanitisation levels using a process like ATP (adenosine triphosphate) fluorescence testing.
  • Deodorising – in a suicide scene, there is a possibility that there will be lingering odours left behind. So, to eliminate them, you might need a deodoriser. It is important to leave the entire area scene smelling fresh. Don’t let it be a reminder of what happened every time you go into that room and come across a foul smell.

  • Remember, you don’t have to do all these! As a matter of fact, it is highly recommended that you stay away from the scene as much as possible. There are trained professionals who can help you. They will take that burden off your shoulders, and will give you back the property when it’s in a safe, liveable condition again.