Tristin Kate Smith, a 28-year-old Ohio nurse, wrote a scathing letter to her “abuser” five months ahead of her August 2023 suicide.
The letter has since gone viral among nurses across the country — many of whom share Smith’s disillusionment with the U.S. health care system.
“I so desperately want to continue to help people, but I cannot stay in this abusive relationship,” wrote Smith, who worked as an emergency room nurse in Dayton, Ohio.
Her father, Ron Smith, discovered the letter, titled “A Letter to My Abuser,” on the nurse’s laptop two months after her death.
In October, it was published as a letter to the editor in The Oakwood Register, a local paper in Ohio, in an effort to raise awareness of how some nurses feel the system they serve is failing them.
Smith, the youngest of six children in her family, battled depression but reportedly never sought professional help.
“Those in the health care field may avoid talking about their mental health struggles for fear of jeopardizing their licensure and negatively impacting their ability to continue serving in their current roles,” Dr. Lama Bazzi, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City, told Fox News Digital in comments about the case and its wider ramifications.
“It is vital to the survival of the health care field for workers to feel safe asking for help — and for help to be readily available to meet their needs before their mental health struggles rise to the level of suicidality,” she added.
“We cannot continue to expect health care workers to suffer in silence when they are at risk for a tragic yet preventable cause of death.”
In his own letter in The Oakwood Register, Smith’s father wrote that he now has “regret-filled hindsight” for not seeing the signs that his daughter was not OK.
She showered her “beloved” dog Calypso with “more dog enrichment toys and contraptions than a single pet store sells,” her father wrote.
Smith had also posted affirmations and mantras throughout her home.
“She tried so hard to stay alive, but none of it was enough to stop the darkness,” her father said in the letter.
“We — nurses and doctors — entered our professions with the noblest of ambitions: to help others who are hurting,” Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, a wellness expert and chief of the division of hematology of Sylvester Cancer Center at the University of Miami, told Fox News Digital.
“It’s difficult to do that when you hurt more than your patients do,” he went on. “When this happens, people leave medicine, or worse.”
In her letter, Smith stated that a shortage of nurses made her feel overwhelmed.
“Each day, you ask me to do more with less,” she wrote.
“You are a narcissist,” she wrote. “You use and exploit us to line your pockets, using the common citizen’s money for overpriced health care.”
She called for more workplace safety and for nurses to not receive blame for being assaulted on the job.
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