Tristin Kate Smith, a 28-year old emergency department nurse from Dayton, Ohio, died by suicide at her home on August 7, 2023.

Following her death, a letter was found on Smith’s laptop by her parents, who sent the letter to the local paper, The Oakwood Register. Following its publication, the letter quickly spread among healthcare workers on social media.

The letter is a condemnation of the for-profit American healthcare system that exploits nurses, healthcare workers and patients. It is a sincere, tragic and in-depth look into what registered nurses (RNs) are experiencing on a daily basis.

Smith titled her suicide note, “A Letter to My Abuser.” It was written in March of 2023, five months prior to her death.

Tristin Kate Smith, daughter, nurse, aunt, friend. [Photo: Family of Tristin Kate Smith]

In making the decision to share her letter with the public, Ron Smith, Tristin’s father wrote:

You’re reading this now because Tristin’s story needs to be told. We need to take action. Our nation’s healthcare system is broken, and it broke our girl. Her passion for nursing has turned into a nightmare. Tristin was in trouble. Nurses are in trouble. Female nurses commit suicide at more than twice the rate of females in the general population.

In her letter, Tristin writes, “Ever since I was young, I expressed interest in healthcare and becoming a nurse, so I began my study. I gave my heart. My body, and my mind to you…” 

She continued, “I told you I would be there through the good and the bad, but you have taken my heart and slowly crushed the goodness it had. … You told me I was going into a career that matters. I could make a difference.

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