Nursing is one of the fastest-growing professions in the UK – but, alarmingly, suicide rates among nurses are growing just as quickly as the profession itself. In just six years between 2011 and 2017, at least 307 NHS nurses took their own lives.1 These figures were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2018 and, understandably, sparked national outrage by both the press and public.
Suicide does not discriminate, and nurses have been suffering in silence for too long. Nurses are at higher risk of suicide than the general population and are four times more likely to take their own lives than people working in any other profession in the UK.2 Furthermore, female nurses are more likely to commit suicide than their male counterparts. Previous research by the ONS found that female nurses are 23% more likely to take their own lives than the rest of the female population.3
Support systems are increasingly being put in place for doctors after national concerns about burnout in this profession. As a result, suicide rates have been declining in doctors.4 The same cannot be said for nurses, making it critical to dig deeper into the factors that contribute to this crisis and work out how you might be able to help yourself or a struggling colleague.
What factors contribute to such high suicide rates in nursing?