Nurses Are Dying From Suicide at Higher Rates
WEDNESDAY April 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Before the start of the pandemic, the risk of suicide was twice as high among nurses as among Americans as a whole, a new study warns.
Even within the healthcare community, nurses were about 70% more likely to die by suicide than female physicians.
Why? Study author Matthew Davis said that at this time, “we are not sure which forces are directly responsible for the higher risk of suicide among nurses. It could be related to high professional demands, less autonomy from doctors, avoidance of mental health. services for fear of stigma, [and] better access to the means to kill oneself ”, ie prescription drugs.
Not only that, but the pandemic “has added tremendous pressure on healthcare workers, especially nurses who provide the vast majority of bedside care,” said Davis, associate professor in the Department of Systems, Population and leadership at the University of Michigan.
In the study, Davis and his team looked at suicide risk information – for adults 30 and older – from the National Violent Death Reporting System.
Over 159,000 suicides occurred during the study period – 2007 to 2018. Of these, nearly 2,400 involved nurses, of which about 8 in 10 were women. (This correlates with estimates indicating that 80 to 85 percent of nurses are women, the study authors noted.
Just over 850 suicides were cited among doctors, of which around 85% were men. The rest (156,000 suicides) were part of the general public; three quarters of these cases involved men.
Going further, Davis and her team determined that the incidence of suicide among nurses was 17.1 per 100,000, compared to 8.6 per 100,000 among women in the general public, doubling the risk.
The situation is more murky for male nurses, Davis said, due to the study’s small sample of male nurses. But the risk of suicide among physicians was not found to be significantly higher than the risk seen in the general public.
The team also observed that when nurses or doctors kill themselves, drugs are often involved. In fact, while 17% of the general public died from suicide by poisoning, that figure rose to almost 25% among doctors and nurses. Specifically, clinician suicides were more likely than general public suicides to result in the use of antidepressants, barbiturates, opioids, and / or benzodiazepines.
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