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‘Unaddressed for years’: Study shows nurses at greater risk of suicide

female nurse
Photo: Sam Edwards/iStockphoto

San Diego — Nurses face an increased risk of suicide, results of a recent study from the University of California, San Diego show.

Using 2005-2016 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, researchers analyzed more than 154,000 incidents of suicide, of which 1,824 involved nurses.

According to a Feb. 3 press release from UC San Diego Health, the suicide rates for both male and female nurses – 33 and 10 per 100,000, respectively – exceeded those of their counterparts in the general public: 27 and 7, respectively. These findings confirm previous studies on the subject, the researchers noted.

“Female nurses have been at greater risk since 2005, and males since 2011,” Judy Davidson, lead study author and a UCSD research scientist, said in the release. “Unexpectedly, the data does not reflect a rise in suicide, but rather that nurse suicide has been unaddressed for years.”

The World Health Organization reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, at 13 deaths per 100,000 people.


Study author Sidney Zisook, a professor of psychiatry at UCSD, said suicide prevention programs are needed for nurses, including further support for those with pain management and mental health issues. One such program is the university’s Healer Education Assessment and Referral program. The HEAR program provides confidential support, education about risk factors and resources for health care providers.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the journal WORLDViews on Evidence-Based Nursing.

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