Nurses: Dealing With Suicide and Burnout

Suicide Risk Among Nurses Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Health, Department of Nursing, have conducted a national longitudinal study and found that the rate of suicide among nurses is higher than that of the general population (Davidson et al. 2020a).

An analysis of data from the 2005–2016 National Violent Death Reporting System dataset showed that female nurses have been at greater risk since 2005 and males since 2011. Lead author Judy Davidson notes that “the data does not reflect a rise in suicide, but rather that nurse suicide has been unaddressed for years.”

Over the analysed period, female nurse suicide rates were significantly higher than the general female population, 10 vs 7 per 100,000 respectively. For male nurses and the general male population the figures are 33 vs 27 per 100,000 respectively.

The preferred methods of suicide among females were opioids and benzodiazepines, while firearms was the most common choice for male nurses.

The authors point out the necessity to implement suicide prevention programmes. One such programme, successfully tested by UC San Diego, is Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) programme. It provides education about risk factors and proactive screening focussed on identifying, supporting and referring clinicians for untreated depression and/or suicide risk. The sustainability of HEAR is explored in another study by Davidson and colleagues (2020b) claiming that it proved to be feasible and well‐received and proactively identifies nurses with reported suicidality and facilitates referral for care.