My charge nurse told my manager I self-harmed


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I'm a nurse in a hospital and i'm close friends with the charge nurse on the unit. I went to CPEP and I had to be medically cleared before I went back to work. During that time, the charge nurse showed my manager texts that I sent to him. One of them was when I told him the first time I cut myself. Another of them was when I said I didn't think I wanted to be alive anymore. I had sent him those texts in confidence because I thought we were friends. But he showed them to my manager and she wrote them down and sent them to the psychiatrist who had to evaluate me before I went back to work.

Am I wrong for thinking that was professionally inappropriate of him? He never told me that he had done that and I feel so betrayed. I understand that he was worried for me but informing my manager of my condition wasn't fair. Am I wrong?


Sounds like they were acting out of concern, and also, as ya know, need to tell senior staff if they have concerns, and actively self harming is a concern. I'm unsure how I would react if a colleague told me they were actively self harming tbh, and that's coming from someone who (used to?) self harm too.

I'm sorry they didn't explain this to you before speaking to your manager, but I think they acted in the most professional way possible.


Gosh, I can understand how upsetting and unsettling that must have been. And how you view that as a breach of trust. And I suppose it is in a way, because you thought it wasn't going anywhere else.
But like @grief and @Chris-duck said: the intent behind it most likely came from a place of kindness and concern for you. Even if it doesn't feel like that.

Is there a way of resolving it with that friend?
And I hope things at work are ok?
It must be a shock for you knowing your manager to knows that , and you not having the control of how and when and who told them.
Am I wrong for thinking that was professionally inappropriate of him?
^The text messages you sent him were personal - friend to friend? So, there's no professional privilege that was breached?
He never told me that he had done that and I feel so betrayed. I
^Possibly he could and should have told you that he was so concerned he wanted to raise it with your manager. Perhaps he understood that the seriousness of your actions warranted your manager knowing and that the manager would take appropriate action to ensure that you were safe and okay to be returning to work - so there wasn't a necessity for him to actually tell you himself. Perhaps he was weak and wanted to opt out of a very difficult situation and send it on to somebody else to deal with it. I don't know how hierarchal and structured your work environment is but in a lot of places mixing serious personal issues and work will result in management wanting to know and perhaps even being obliged to be told.

I understand that he was worried for me but informing my manager of my condition wasn't fair. Am I wrong?
^ I don't think what you feel is necessarily right or wrong, fair or unfair. What did you expect him to do with the information you gave him in a text? I guess if you just wanted him to sit on it and say nothing and do nothing then yes I guess he was wrong. But it's way more complex than that. You would know from your professional training that when people are distressed and reach out that it's a good thing that they are supported to find help and I'd suggest that he needed to do that for you. It is easy to label his actions as unnecessary now but he could not read your mind and was not in a position to ensure your safety so clearly he believed what he did was necessary at that time.

What would you have done if you received a text like you sent from a work colleague - given that you also cannot read minds or ensure the safety of the sender?


Am I wrong for thinking that was professionally inappropriate of him? He never told me that he had done that and I feel so betrayed. I understand that he was worried for me but informing my manager of my condition wasn't fair. Am I wrong?
What’re the alternatives available to him, if he was worried about your safety?

- Do nothing (which is what is soooounds like he did the first time, and the things escalated?)
- Cal 911/999 and have you taken from your home, or off the floor at work in front of all of your colleagues, so you can be held on a 72hr psych evaluation / sectioned until an assessment can be made

To me, it sounds like he chose the most discrete option available to him.

If you’d been taken by police on a psych hold / sectioned, your manager would have been informed, either way. As would everyone else, if you weren’t home at the time. (Patients, colleagues, bosses, their bosses / upper admin). The way he did it, kept things “in house” & kept it as private & accountable as possible. Your manager informed by a friend, that one of their people was struggling and needed help; rather than having a call from a stranger (who outranks them) in the psych ward that they had one of their nurses (if they’d taken you from your home); or suddenly having police show up on your floor to escort you out and all of that drama.

Sure, in theory, the most “correct” way for him to have acted was to have the police deal with you/your manager, & the psych ward liaise with your manager, everything by the book & above board. But he chose a more discrete option. One that tries to protect your reputation & career, in addition to your life.


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@Movingforward10 I think you meant to tag Grief! in your comment.

I do not agree with the rest here. I think this fake friend did you disservice. Even if you were at guillotine when you wrote...they could have called you and ask for more details rather than honestly impacting on your livelihood. I mean what is the concern here if you also lose your job?
One thing I find extremely annoying and unhelpful is no one can entertain their feelings toward death and maybe even wanting to die (hyperbole, lived experience, or just fantasy) and confine in another god why is that?
Only you know if you wanted to commit suicide and from what you are writing here sounds to me you were confiding and this person betrayed you. Sorry and I hope you find other real people to trust.


I think this fake friend
Ah... but not just a friend. A friend IN their chain of command at work.

By disclosing to him, any harm to patients or to themselves, would be his responsibility, because he knew his friend was struggling but chose to do nothing.

It’s like, if you or someone you love was admitted to the hospital, and you/they died due to totally avoidable medical error ...and then it came out that people knew... that your nurse was suicidal/not up to performing their job, and did nothing? Or even not your nurse, but your nurse doing the job of 2 trying to cover for the suicidal nurse not up to their job, stretched too thin to provide care to all of their patients? That’s not about an individuals right to kill themselves, if they want to. That’s about someone killing others & allowing others to die... through negligence. It becomes a “duty of care” issue to report. The only 2 choices available are a big splashy report, or an in-house report.

At that point? It becomes the responsibility of someone trained to assess how serious the situation is. Maybe they’re totally okay to be working, “just” struggling themselves; or maybe they pose too great a risk to patients, and can be moved into a clerical role; or maybe they need to take some medical leave and take care of themselves. Either way? Someone whose expertise is in suicidal & self harming people is making that assessment, rather than Random McPerson; who is just as likely to overreact and send the person home, as to underreact and put people’s lives at risk.
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I feel so betrayed
Personally? Feelings are feelings. They aren't right or wrong, they just are. In this case, you feel betrayed.

That doesn't mean you were betrayed. Irrespective of whether you were or not, that's how you feel, and that feeling is valid.

But betrayal is a feeling that is linked to trust, especially in relationships that are important to us (we tend not to work up to the BIG feelings like betrayal in relationships that aren't important to us).

So, the feeling is telling you that this has probably impacted how much you trust this person. Moving forward? That's useful information, because it gives you an opportunity to check your boundaries with them, and decide "Do I want to change my boundaries with this person?"

You may decide that you want to share less with this person moving forward. Or even with other professional colleagues.

Alternatively, you may decide that, although painful, what they did was not necessarily a betrayal, or even a bad thing (that's a personal decision for you to make, probably once the dust has settled, and the emotions have started to wane).
he showed them to my manager and she wrote them down and sent them to the psychiatrist who had to evaluate me before I went back to work.
How did this work out for you?

If this is as far as it goes, and your manager never mentions it again, potentially it's a win.

Your psychiatrist is probably the best person to assess how big a deal the content of those messages were for you personally. And if your manager treats you exactly the same moving forward, then it sounds like you're working among some pretty professional colleagues when it comes to dealing with mental health issues moving forward (that may not be the case - I hope it is).

The up side of that? Is knowing your work colleagues can act professionally around mental health issues, when you have a mental illness on board? Can be a huge source of relief in the longer term...

It makes sense to me that sharing your texts has brought up feelings of betrayal. But, it isn't necessarily a bad outcome long term. In that case? Self compassion for how you feel right now (I feel betrayed, those feelings are valid, and it's pretty unpleasant), and reassessing the situation once you've taken care of yourself and the difficult emotions you're experiencing.