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Female nurse suicides: report reveals limited contact with mental health services

NHS England-commissoned report highlights need for staff to know support is available
Image of depressed nurse who is contemplating taking her own life

NHS England-commissoned report highlights need for staff to know support is available, says RCN

More than half of female nurses who died by suicide over a six-year period were not in contact with mental health services, a report has revealed.

Academics from the University of Manchester have published a preliminary report, commissioned by NHS England, on suicide by female nurses .

Staff not in contact with mental health services

The authors studied national mortality data from the Office for National Statistics about female nurses who died by suicide between January 2011 and December

NHS England-commissoned report highlights need for staff to know support is available, says RCN


Picture: iStock

More than half of female nurses who died by suicide over a six-year period were not in contact with mental health services, a report has revealed.

Academics from the University of Manchester have published a preliminary report, commissioned by NHS England, on suicide by female nurses.

Staff not in contact with mental health services

The authors studied national mortality data from the Office for National Statistics about female nurses who died by suicide between January 2011 and December 2016.

Of a total of 281 nurses who died by suicide, 204 (73%) were female, and nearly half were between 45 and 54 years old.

More than half (60%) of the female nurses who died were not in contact with mental health services.

Despite proximity to healthcare, nurses no more likely to use services

One of the lead contributors to the report, Pauline Turnbull, said: ‘In our brief preliminary study, we found that more than half of the women working as nurses hadn't been in contact with mental health services before they died by suicide.

‘This figure is no higher than in the general population, but we would have expected nurses to have had greater use of services given their close proximity to healthcare.’

RCN mental health professional lead Catherine Gamble said the college was deeply concerned about the findings in the report

’It is vital that employers ensure accessible, suitable support is on offer, and that if nursing staff are struggling they are made of aware of what is available, including helplines,’ she said.

In April, the NHS launched a mental health helpline where nurses can access support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The phone line 0300 131 7000 is open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service 85258 is available 24/7.

What to do if you need help 

  • RCN members can get free, confidential support and assistance to help them deal with personal and work-related issues. The RCN counselling service is available 8.30am–8.30pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To make an appointment call 0345 772 6100
  • The Samaritans offers a safe place to talk any time, including about job-related stress or anxiety. Call free on 116 123 

 


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