Nurse suicide risk: national institute working on ‘evidence gap’ in figures

Latest ONS data on suicide risk among nursing professionals in the UK are from 2015

Latest ONS data on suicide risk among nursing professionals in the UK are from 2015

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The Office for National Statistics is investigating new ways of measuring the risk of nurse suicide.

It comes as a US study demonstrates that nurses are at greater risk of suicide than the general population.

University of California San Diego researchers found the suicide rate among female nurses in the US is ten per 100,000, compared with seven per 100,000 in the general female population. Among male nurses it is 33 per 100,000, compared with 27 per 100,000 in the general male population.

Risk of suicide among nurses higher than for general population

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on the risk of suicide for nurses were published in 2015 and show it as 23% higher than for the general population.  

An ONS spokesperson said the organisation is working to provide updated figures on suicide risk by occupation in the UK. 

‘We are aware there is an evidence gap and are investigating different ways and sources to provide risk estimates,’ they said. ‘Data from the census next year will enable us to provide fresh insight into this, going back to 2016.’

‘Suicide among nurses is underreported’

The latest ONS data on the number of nurses who died by suicide show 55 deaths in England and Wales in 2018.

This takes the total number of nurses who died by suicide in the two countries between 2011 and 2018 to 360.

Jennifer Hawkins, clinical lead for the Laura Hyde Foundation (LHF), which aims to prevent suicide among nurses, said suicide in the profession is underreported in the UK. 

‘There isn’t a national database that I am aware of,’ she said. ‘As the UK doesn’t keep statistics, the problem is underreported.’

Do 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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