Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide rates for health care providers are thought to be higher than for people in other occupations because of job strain and burnout. Despite the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, which focuses on reducing stress and preventing suicide, a shortage of data limits our understanding of nurse suicide. Neither employers nor professional nursing associations track suicide data.
To determine the number of suicides and estimated rate of suicide among RNs, using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).
We extracted data from the NVDRS, which is based on death certificates, coroner reports, and law enforcement reports, for the year 2015. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System was used to code the data. Industry and occupation coding experts reviewed the coding for accuracy.
Analysis of 2015 NVDRS data from 17 states showed that among civilian employed nurses ages 16 to 64 years, the estimated suicide rates for female and male nurses (11.4 and 29.3 per 100,000 nurses, respectively) were each higher than the rates for the comparable total population (8.2 and 26.1 per 100,000 people, respectively).
Our findings indicate that RNs may die by suicide at higher rates than the total employed population in the 16-to-64-year age range. Implementation of evidence-based approaches to prevent suicide are warranted.