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Suicide Rate Up for Nurses Versus General U.S. Population

THURSDAY, April 15, 2021 -- The suicide rate among nurses exceeds that in the general population in the United States, with suicide incidence higher for female nurses than the female general population, according to a study published online April 14 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Matthew A. Davis, M.P.H., Ph.D., from the University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study using U.S. data from 159,372 suicides reported from 2007 to 2018. Sex-specific suicide incidence estimates were generated among nurses, physicians, and the general population.

The researchers identified 2,374 suicides among nurses, 857 suicides among physicians, and 156,141 suicides in the general population. Suicide was more common among nurses than the general population (2017 to 2018 sex-adjusted incidence, 23.8 versus 20.1 per 100,000; relative risk, 1.18). In 2017 to 2018, the suicide incidence among female nurses was 17.1 per 100,000 versus 8.6 per 100,000 in the general female population (relative risk, 1.99). Compared with the general population of women, being a female nurse was associated with an additional 8.5 suicides per 100,000 in absolute terms. Physician suicide rates were not statistically different from the general population by sex, except for among female physicians in 2011 to 2012 (11.7 versus 7.5 per 100,000).

"Employers need to make it easy for nurses, doctors, and other health care workers who are struggling to access the help they need," a coauthor said in a statement.

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