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Female nurses at increased risk of suicide

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154 female nursing and midwifery staff committed s 154 female nursing and midwifery staff committed suicide between 2011 and 2015

Female nurses are at a significantly higher risk of suicide than the national average, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

The ONS’ Suicide by Occupation report, published on 17 March, revealed that from 2011 to 2015, 154 women who were ‘nursing and midwifery professionals’ were reported to have committed suicide – 23% above the national average.

Comparatively, 64 men in nursing jobs committed suicide in the same period.

‘Today’s figures are a cause of great concern to the nursing profession,’ said Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief executive Janet Davies. ‘Every life lost is heart-breaking for their friends, family and colleagues. It is never inevitable and we must all redouble our efforts to support nursing staff.

According to Ms Davies, RCN members have repeatedly said mental health issues are disregarded in the workplace. ‘We are confident there has been a significant decrease in the wellbeing of the nursing profession and workplace,’ she added. ‘Nursing staff experience high levels of stress, a shortage of colleagues and long working hours.’

She urged the government and NHS bodies to take a ‘detailed look’ at why female nurses are more than twice as likely to take their lives than their male counterparts.

To coincide with the release of the ONS figures, Public Health England (PHE) has published toolkits for employers on how to prevent suicide and minimise the impact when it happens.

PHE collaborated with Business in the Community and Samaritans to create the toolkits which encourage early action on suicide risk and ‘treat mental health as seriously as physical health’.

‘We spend a third of our lives at work and one-fifth of us experience suicidal thoughts, so these resources are much needed,’ said Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland. ‘It is up to us to create a culture in our workplaces where people feel safe enough to talk about their feelings and get support if they need it. The effects of suicide can be devastating and they can reach far beyond immediate family and friends.’

Other at-risk professions included primary school teachers (42% above national average) and those working in culture, media and sport (69% above).

The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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This does not surprise me. I went in to nursing to do something really valuble with my life. I studied hard while working my socks off on the wards. In my 36 years the studying and hard work has never eased. I know I am highly valued by my patients and so I carry on. However I am just a number on the off-duty to middle/higher management. They no longer reveer their nurses and treat them with the respect they deserve. We are whittled down to a skeleton staff and asked to do more and more for less and less.

In some ways we are are own worst ememies due to the fact that the very kind of person who wants to be a nurse is usually kind, helpful, clever, honest and non-militant. We are not allowed to strike, even if we wanted to (which we don't).

Dealing with stressful conditions, being over-tired from hard physical work, being undervalued by your bosses, having a homelife/children and then add money worries on top of all that is a recipe for depression. Especially when you thought you would have a rewarding, exciting and highly respected career.

All in all we have some of the very best examples of humanity totally undervalued, over-worked, exhausted. And not paid enough.
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I am not surprise given the current work pressures identified within the health care environment with little collaborative support from colleagues
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