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Female nurses at higher risk of suicide compared to some other occupations

Nurses have an higher risk of suicide according to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Suicidal nurses

Female nurses have a higher risk of suicide compared to some other occupations, according to a new analysis.

The Office for National Statistics study looked at the occupations of 18,998 people aged 20 to 64 who died from suicide in England between 2011 and 2015.

Professions with a higher risk of suicide for women included those working in culture, media and sport (69% above the national average), and primary school teachers (42% above average).

Higher than national average

It found that the risk of suicide among female nurses was 23% higher than the national average, with the risk of suicide among female health professionals 24% higher.

Public Health England (PHE), the Samaritans and charity Business in the

Female nurses have a higher risk of suicide compared to some other occupations, according to a new analysis.


 The Office for National Statistics study found that the risk of suicide among female nurses was 23% higher than the national average. Photo: Alamy

The Office for National Statistics study looked at the occupations of 18,998 people aged 20 to 64 who died from suicide in England between 2011 and 2015.

Professions with a higher risk of suicide for women included those working in culture, media and sport (69% above the national average), and primary school teachers (42% above average).

Higher than national average

It found that the risk of suicide among female nurses was 23% higher than the national average, with the risk of suicide among female health professionals 24% higher.

Public Health England (PHE), the Samaritans and charity Business in the Community have joined forces to produce toolkits for employers prevent suicide, including mental health first aid training and suicide awareness for managers.

Suicide was defined in the study as deaths with an underlying cause of intentional self-harm or injury/poisoning of undetermined intent.

For men – who are still more likely to die by suicide - the most at risk groups included labourers and construction workers.

Leading cause of death

The report also revealed that male health professionals, particularly doctors, had a low risk of suicide – 16% lower than the national average.

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: ‘Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, and more women are taking their own lives each year.

‘Death by suicide is never inevitable, but for a person who is overwhelmed by feelings and events that appear insurmountable, it can seem like the only answer.

‘People who die from suicide are usually not in contact with health services, and often push through in silence as their ability to cope deteriorates. With more than two thirds of adults in employment, the workplace offers an opportunity to reach people who need extra support.

Treat seriously

‘I urge all employers – large or small, public or private sector – to treat mental health as seriously as physical health. Early action can stop any employees reaching a desperate stage.

‘Simple actions can make a huge difference – talking with a manager or colleague can help people get the support they need, and ultimately save lives.’

The toolkits for employers include advice on how to prevent suicide and how to minimise the impact when it does happen.

If you or anybody you know have been affected by the issues in this story, call Samaritans on 116 123. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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