The Holidays and Life After Suicide Loss

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, available 24/7 at 800-273-8255, 

Life after suicide can feel impossible. Knowing someone you loved was hurting so deeply that they took their own life is crushing. Not only are you mourning the loss, but it’s common for survivors to contemplate what they could have done to save their person. This contemplation can seem life-long.

The holidays can often feel like a mirror, amplifying our loss back to us in our own reflection. Life seems to go on as it does — but your person isn’t here anymore, and life never got to carry on for them. The way things move forward on their own, without pause for the devastation, can feel cold and crass. 

Grief does not visit when it’s convenient and shows up unannounced all the time. And although everyone says this is normal, you might be wondering how a feeling so debilitating could ever be called ‘normal’.

You may feel like you just survived the hardest thing anyone has ever endured, but you are not alone

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is November 19th, 2022 — just days before Thanksgiving. This international day of remembrance was created for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Losing someone to suicide is a very unique situation that can be hard for others to understand. Connecting with others who are going through the same experience, or similar, can help mourners cope with the loss. 

International Survivors of Suicide Loss was created by an organization called the American Association for Suicide Prevention. ASFP is an incredible resource for information regarding all things suicide prevention, loss, and community. If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, we strongly urge you to lean on this organization for support.

Each year the organization holds events on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, in different cities. We’ve included a few below, but if your state isn’t included in our short list, check out the website for more information. Every state has a chapter and each state will hold an event.

San Diego, California
November 19th, 2022
8am – 12:30pm
Location: University of San Diego (USD), Joan B Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
5555 Marian Way, San Diego, CA 92110

Las Vegas, Nevada
November 19, 2022
10am-12pm
Location: TBD

Tempe, Arizona
November 19, 2022
9am-1pm
Rio Salado College Conference Center
2323 W 14th St Tempe, Arizona

Globally, over 800,000 people lose their lives to suicide each year. That equates to around one person taking their own life every 40 seconds. Unfortunately, suicide is common—but the shock and loss felt by those left behind ripples through communities, relationships, and more. 

As if dealing with grief wasn’t enough, here come the holidays right around the corner. It’s supposed to be the ‘happiest time of the year’; but if you’re struggling to even get out of bed in the morning, it can easily become the most challenging time of the year.

The following tips might seem simple or redundant, but we hope you consider them. They are statistically proven to be helpful in giving your mind and body what they need to survive this time. 

Say No 

Grieving is a deeply chaotic time for the body, and ‘grief brain’ is a real thing. You might find that you walk into rooms with no idea why you came in the first place. Forgetting what you’re talking about, or forgetting important things are common. 

Sometimes grief will take precedence over things you want to do and spending time with people you love — and that is okay. If you are unable to do something (like meet friends for a holiday dinner or happy hour), just say no. Don’t force yourself to do things that you can’t do. Mourning bodies and brains need exponential care and softness.

Say no if you don’t have it in your tank. It’s okay to do so. People that love you will understand. 

Sleep Well

If you’re grieving, chances are you’re very sleepy—often. Your body is fighting to regain homeostasis, and loss shocks the system. Let yourself sleep if you need to. If you have children, lean on your community and ask for help so that you can nap. Do not feel guilt or shame if you can’t keep up with others right now.

Sleep is the number one way that our bodies get stronger and heal. Give yourself sleep, and don’t feel bad for how many hours you need. You may find that you can sleep well past 8+ hours. This is normal, this is necessary.

love and kindness concept, heart painted on frozen glass window

Have Grace

Life after suicide looks different for everyone.

Rage might appear in your life, anger, resentment, and deep sadness. There is no playbook or manual on how to deal with these things. This is not a normal situation. However you deal with your grief, is how you deal with your grief. Have grace for yourself and the way that you’re dealing with the insurmountable loss felt after suicide.

In our line of work, we see many families directly after the loss of a loved one. We witness their pain, confusion, and shock— and we show up with rolled up sleeves and a deep softness for their situation.

We witness their pain, confusion, and shock. The BioClean team meets each family with deep compassion and care, and cleaning up the unimaginable is our honor.

What is ‘Gross Filth’ Cleanup?

Gross filth cleanup is different from a hoarder cleanup situation for seceral different reasons. Gross filth results from left behind trash, feces, food waste, dirty dishes, etc.  This kind of extreme filth can occur for many different reasons. 

Consider a person being too sick or elderly to take care of themselves. Trash will accumulate—especially if said person cannot use the restroom alone anymore. Sometimes people die in their homes without anyone finding them for a while. Some of those people may have many animals in the home that are uncared for— leaving behind mass amounts of feces, urine, and debris behind.

It’s also common for this level of filth to occur in meth houses or transient spaces. And of course, places in extreme hoarding situations.

Cleaning up a gross filth scene is challenging and can feel incredibly distressing.

The amount of trash and filth that is considered to be a gross filth cleanup is an unbearable job for anyone. In most cases, the person tasked with cleaning up the filth is not the person who made the mess in the first place. 

It’s common for landlords to encounter gross filth when a tenant moves out of their apartment, for instance. The landlord has no idea that the tenants are living in filth, and when they move out, the landlord is shocked with what’s left behind. This is also a similar situation for investors or homeowners who have bought an abandoned property or a fixer-upper.

Family members of deceased loved ones are often faced with cleaning up a gross filth situation, too. Sometimes when people are sick, especially elderly people, they can no longer take care of themselves. In many cases, the sick individual does not alert their family or friends of the growing situation in their homes. And when they pass, their family members come into the home to organize their belongings, only to find a serious mess that they feel overwhelmed with cleaning.

Examples of ‘gross filth’ are: 

  • Excessive common household trash and debris building up over long periods of time without removal.
  • Pets urinating and defecating freely inside the home without cleanup.
  • Food laden plates or containers piled up in the sink, bathtub, and counters unwashed.
  • Unflushed, overflowing, or broken toilets and sinks.
  • Human waste in other areas of home or bathroom besides proper vesicles.
  • Mattress, couches, or other items soaked in urine, blood, or loose stool for a variety of reasons.
  • Light switches, walls, entryways, and door jams smeared with food waste, dirt, feces.

Many regular clean up companies, like housekeepers for instance, will not clean up a gross filth situation.

Why?

Because when filth goes to the extreme (feces, old food, animals, etc.), it becomes a biohazard. Housekeeping companies are not licensed to clean up biohazardous waste and do not have the tools to do so safely.

That’s where The BioClean Team comes in.

How is Gross Filth Cleanup Different From Hoarder Cleanup?

Hoarder cleanup is a different situation from gross filth cleanup. Hoarding is a mental illness that provokes people to constantly consume. You can read more about hoarding here.

Cleaning up a hoarders home requires compassion, patience, and understanding of the disorder. The BioTeam takes great care in helping a hoarder throw away their things and determine what items to keep. We will carefully comb through every item, throw away trash, and clean any areas of filth.

The goal of hoarding cleanup is to give the hoarder a fresh start and a clean space to live in again. Many times when we clean a hoarder’s home, the hoarder is still there. Hoarding is a serious mental health disorder that makes a person believe that “more” will make them feel safe.

People can hoard animals, things, or trash. It really depends on the individual.

Most items will be thrown out in a gross filth cleanup.

Carpet will be replaced, tile busted out, fresh drywall hung up again. Gross filth is often a situation where people can’t live in space until it is completely cleaned out and remediated of any biohazard threat.

Feces and urine from animals and humans alone is enough to qualify for a growth filth clean up. Cleaning spaces where meth or other drugs have been made is also considered a gross clean up situation. Make sure not to expose yourself to bodily fluids or mold, either. 

If you have a gross filth cleanup situation on your hands, please give us a call. Allow professionals with the education and appropriate gear handle the situation for you. Risking your health just isn’t worth it! 

Trauma Scene Cleanup: What You Should Do After A Death in Your Home

If someone has passed away in your home, specifically in a violent or bloody matter, you’ll need to hire a crew to conduct a trauma scene cleanup. Blood and human remains can leave behind biohazardous, bloodborne pathogens that must be cleaned up and disposed of appropriately. 

First and foremost, though, we want to acknowledge how absolutely harrowing this experience is. If you’re reading this because this has happened to you, know that our entire team sends our condolences and deep regards for your well-being.

Someone dying in your home, traumatically or not, is unimaginable. It’s something that no person wants to go through or experience, and witnessing this event can be psychologically traumatizing. If you are struggling with witnessing a violent or traumatic event, we strongly encourage you to lean on those you love and seek psychological support. Mental health matters— and you are not alone. 

The BioClean Team prioritizes compassion, discretion, and kindness above anything else. This is a non-negotiable for any company you hire to conduct a trauma scene cleanup, and we hope that you keep that in mind when searching for help.

Now, onto the blog. 

What is a Trauma Scene Clean-Up?

A trauma scene clean-up is a service conducted by licensed bioremediation professionals. The trauma scene cleanup takes place after the body has been removed by the coroner. If the person did not pass away but still left mass amounts of blood and bodily fluids behind, a biohazardous clean-up crew will still be necessary. 

It is a common misconception that EMTs or police officers clean up human remains, blood, or bodily fluids after traumatic events. Unfortunately, though, the job of cleaning up remains is left to family members, friends, or business owners if the tragedy took place inside of a business building.

If there is blood or human remains left behind, police will condone the space as a biohazardous area and will clear the scene in order to keep people safe. When the scene is cleared and the victim or person who was hurt is removed, police will then let you know when you can call a company to come in and clean the area. 

If you have just watched someone die, chances are that you’re not up to the task of sifting through the internet to find the right company to hire to clean up—and certainly not able to clean up what’s left behind on your own. It’s an unthinkable thing to expect someone to do after experiencing something so shocking and tragic. 

That’s where the BioClean Team comes in. 

Making Your Space Livable Again 

With extreme compassion for grieving family members and friends, we clear the area and begin to disinfect the scene. Our team will have proper PPE gear, chemicals for disinfection, and specific storage for contaminated objects to be disposed of at licensed facilities. We use layers of gloves and take other protective measures to ensure that our staff is safe. 

Hiring a bioremediation company like BioClean is the only way to ensure that your home can be livable again. When we perform a trauma scene cleanup,  we’ll remove any materials or objects that are contaminated with blood. We will also clean the interior of your home where the blood has made its way. This ensures your living spaces are clear of any lingering infectious diseases. This includes any splattering of blood, tracking, or dripping. 

When left behind, human blood can contain infectious organisms called bloodborne pathogens that can make people gravely ill. Some examples are HIV, Hepatitis B and C, MRSA (a bacteria that can’t be treated with antibiotics), and C. Difficulty. 

When are Trauma Scene Cleanups Necessary? 

If someone has lost lots of blood, human remains and tissues, and bodily fluids, you’ll need to hire a cleanup crew. As stated above, these materials are incredibly dangerous to your health and can cause life-threatening diseases if not disinfected properly. Possibly even death. 

The BIOClean Team offers services for the following traumatic events: 

  • Crime Scenes
  • Suicide
  • Homicides
  • Traumatic Accidents
  • Accidental Death
  • Undiscovered or Unattended Death 

Give The Bioclean Team a Call

We understand how tender these situations are, and would be honored to help you get through this incredibly difficult time. Not only will we make your personal space safe to live in again, but we will also offer deep compassion to those on the scene who are in shock or deeply grieving. Losing someone you love or witnessing someone else lose their life is one of the most traumatic things we can ever face. Let us help you bear a piece of the burden by making your home a place you can be in again.

Where Does the Biohazard Symbol Come From?

The biohazard symbol is the most recognized symbol in the world — and that’s by design. We’ve seen it everywhere, but how did that come to be? Read more to learn about who designed the symbol, why, and how the biohazard symbol keeps us safe today.

Who Created The Biohazard Symbol and Why

The biohazard symbol was designed with intention by Charles L. Baldwin, an environmental health engineer of Dow Chemicals, and Rovert S. Runkle of the NIH in 1966. It was created to be an international symbol—one that could be recognized by anyone in the world, no matter your background or what language you speak.

Baldwin, working in a facility with numerous hazardous substances, realized that not everyone in the facility understood what every symbol meant in the lab. He saw this as a problem and a barrier to keeping the public safe and informed. 

His drive to keep people safe is what inspired him to create a new, universal symbol that everyone could understand.

Instead of creating a different symbol for every chemical and hazard, Baldwin created a single symbol to avoid any further confusion. This one symbol allowed his coworkers and the rest of the world to recognize something as dangerous without having to understand the exact ingredients of the substance.

When we see the surgeon general’s warning label on cigarettes, we know that cigarettes are dangerous to our well-being. We don’t need to have knowledge of every ingredient and why it’s harmful.

The same goes for alcohol. We don’t need to understand every ingredient inside those items — knowing they are bad for you is reason enough to leave them alone.

The biohazard symbol acts as the same kind of warning. 

The biohazard symbol covers a lot of ground to convey a consistent message anyone from any part of the world can understand: danger.

The Biohazard Symbol Was Designed To Be Unforgettable 

Runkle and Baldwin wanted the symbol to be easily recognizable and unique. It was important to Baldwin and Runkle that this symbol be so specific that it could not be confused with another. The symbol was intended to be inclusive of any ethnic background. It also needed to be symmetrical so that any way you saw the symbol, it looked the same. 

Dow knew that creating a simple symbol that was easy to remember could potentially save lives. Dow took the task of creating the memorable symbol very seriously. Dow’s marketing team spent countless hours crafting several different symbols and finally conducted user testing.

In the survey groups, Dow presented several different well-known logos, and the unknown and newly formulated biohazard symbol. The idea was to gauge how familiar these logos and symbols were to the public. For obvious reasons, the survey group found the biohazard symbol as the least recognizable because the image was new to them. 

But that’s when something interesting happened.

The Biohazard Symbol Was Born 

Dow did the test once again a week later and found that after explaining the biohazard symbol just once, everyone in the group remembered its meaning and significance. 

Boom.

They found the winner.

Since the biohazard symbol is three-sided, there is no wrong way to append the symbol. The only rule to using the biohazard symbol is that there has to be enough contrast between the symbol and the background so that the image is impossible to miss. We often see biohazard signs with yellow backgrounds, but that is not mandatory to the design—it just causes more attention.

Examples of Biohazardous Substances the Symbol Signifies

  • Blood

The biohazard symbol is used to alert others of blood and human tissues that contain blood. Blood is dangerous because of the infectious properties pathogens can emit—making blood a biohazard to people and the environment.

  • Animal Waste

Dead animals and any materials that were exposed to animals carrying infectious pathogens. 

  • Microbiological Waste

Microbiological wastes are more prominent in scientific labs. These examples include specimen cultures, culture dishes, thrown-out viruses, and devices utilized for transferring or mixing cultures.

Unfixed human tissues (except for the skin) and other materials used for things like autopsies and human biopsies.

  • Sharps Waste

Needles, glass slides, and cover slides that are used to inspect blood on a microscope, scalpels, and IV tubing with the needle still attached at the end. 

It’s impossible to measure how many lives Baldwin and Runkle saved by creating this symbol. Not, it is a worldwide symbol that keeps people safe every day. 

Today, the symbol is a public domain, meaning that anyone can use the symbol on anything without charge or paying a royalty fee.  

If you’ve encountered any of the examples mentioned above and don’t know what to do, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to help you figure out the next steps and if it’s safe to clean up on your own. 

Best DIY Skunk Odor Removal

Here’s the good news! Not every cleanup job requires a professional service to come in – though we are happy to help where we can of course. One of those seemingly insurmountable jobs is removing the potent skunk odor from homes and pets. This time on The BIOClean blog, we’re going to tell you about DIY skunk odor removal!

How to Get Skunk Smell Out of the House

Skunks produce a heckuva smell and it can linger for days or even weeks. Here are a few tips to help you beat that smell fast and clear your home out.

Open Up

First open up all of your windows to let as much sun and air in. This will help two-fold. Circulating the air is a big help of course but also that sunlight that is allowed in can help oxidize the odors, shortening it’s lifespan.

Use Vinegar

Put bowls of white vinegar in each room for a few days. The vinegar will sit and absorb the skunk odor molecules floating about and neutralize it.

Boil Vinegar

You can speed up the process a bit through boiling vinegar. Put a pot of white vinegar on the stove and boil for an hour. Refill as it evaporates to prevent damage to the pot and of course don’t leave the stove unattended. The vinegar should neutralize the skunk smell. Your house might smell like vinegar for a bit, but that’s a lot better than skunk that’s for sure.

Wash It Out
Grab up any clothing, bedding, or fabrics that have the odor lingering. Toss them into the washing machine on the hottest setting. Add ½ cup of baking soda in addition to your normal detergent. Wash and repeat the wash cycle once more. Then air dry your laundry (outside if possible) instead of using the dryer. Using the dryer’s heat  can seal the odor into the fabric.

Steam Clean Soft Surfaces – Bleach The Hard Ones
For any furniture or other soft surfaces you can’t launder, do a thorough steam cleaning to pull out and break apart the lingering odors.

For harder surfaces mix up a blend of bleach and water, 1:9 (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Test on a small section first to be sure it doesn’t damage or discolor the surface and when all things are clear go for it.

Change the Filters
When everything has been handled, make sure you swap out your HVAC filters so you’re starting fresh.

How to Clear Your Yard of Skunk Smell

So if you or your pet got blasted by a skunk, the area of effect is much larger than you’d expect. Skunk spray can travel up to ten feet, settling into any porous surfaces that are present. Thankfully you can clean these too!

First, mix up a bleach mixture, 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Working in small areas, using a sponge or cloth to wash the porous surface with the solution. Rinse each section with fresh water as you go to make sure it doesn’t sit for too long and damage the surface.

Do not use a pressure washer for this! Pressure washers can overspray and hit plants or other items with the bleach causing serious problems.

Follow these instructions and your home should get clear of that potent skunk smell and you can return to living comfortably. For worse scenarios or instances where the skunk odor has been had time to dig in, you can call The BIOClean Team to take care of business.