STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) – It’s a problem facing health care workers across the country, including here in the Bay Area.
Friends of a Stanford nurse who died by suicide last week say his death is bringing attention the to importance of mental health for healthcare workers.
A recent study says that over the past two years of caring for COVID patients, nurses and other first responders reported high levels of stress, depression, and fatigue.
Friends and co-workers of 27-year-old Michael Odell are heartbroken.
The travel ICU nurse from Oklahoma had been working at Stanford Hospital before dying by suicide last week.
Josh Paredes was best friends with Odell. As a fellow nurse, he says the stresses of the job have become overwhelming for so many in the health care field.
Paredes believes it’s important for people to hear Odell’s story.
A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine included a survey of more than 500 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been treating COVID patients.
Within it, they found 74% saying they were depressed, 37% reported they were experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 15% said they have had thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Stanford nurse Gabby Ladue helped in the frantic two-day search for Odell who abruptly left work and went missing last Tuesday.
The search ended tragically on Thursday when Odell’s body was found at the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge.
Ladue says right now frontline workers across the country need more support. Odell’s colleagues are hoping employers will step up in their efforts to address the well-being of their workers.
A statement provided to KRON4 by Stanford said:
“Stanford Health Care offers support to all our caregivers and staff. While Michael Odell, a traveling nurse, was with Stanford Health Care for just one month, he was a valued member of our community. We are deeply saddened and mourn this loss, as do those who worked alongside him.”
For Paredes, Odell’s death is pointing out the need for these conversations.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255