Suicide by female nurses: a brief report
Date of publication: June 2020
This was a brief study, requested by NHS England, aimed to establish preliminary data about women who died by suicide while employed as nurses. To do this we carried out: an examination of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on female nurses who died by suicide during a six-year period (2011-2016); a detailed analysis of female nurse suicides using the NCISH database of people who died by suicide within 12 months of mental health service contact, including comparison with other female patients.
Further study needed
Our study provided information not previously available on female nurses who died by suicide. However, our database was not established for this purpose and we can only draw preliminary conclusions. More detailed studies should help identify priorities for prevention.
More than half of the nurses who died were not in contact with mental health services. We need to improve access to mental health care in nurses, as in many groups. Similar concerns have previously been raised for doctors, who now have a dedicated mental health service.
Further study of self-poisoning needed
Self-poisoning rates among females nurses were high; the drugs most commonly used were psychotropics, opiates, and paracetamol. Further study of self-poisoning among female nurses is needed to inform prevention measures.
Workplace, financial, and personal problems
Suicide is complex, and this complexity needs further exploration in female nurses, including examining the specific effects of workplace, financial, and personal problems.
Comprehensive, needs-based clinical care
Some indicators of suicide risk in female nurses, such as depression and substance misuse, are common to most groups who are at risk. They show the importance of comprehensive, needs-based clinical care in improving prevention.