Nurses Have Suicidal Thoughts More Often Than Other Workers: Study

U.S. nurses think about suicide more often than other workers do, but are less likely to tell anyone about it, new research reveals.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the responses of more than 7,000 nurses and nearly 5,200 other general workforce members who took part in a national poll on well-being that was conducted in November 2017 and included questions on issues ranging from burnout to depression.

More than 400 (5.5%) of the nurses said they’d had suicidal thoughts within the past year, compared with 4.3% of people in the general workforce.

Nurses who reported thoughts of suicide were less likely than other workers to seek professional help for their emotional struggles, according to the Mayo Clinic study published online Oct. 22 in the American Journal of Nursing.

The findings also showed that more than one-third of nurses had at least one symptom of burnout and 40% had symptoms of depression.

The researchers said it’s important to note that the survey was conducted before nurses nationwide had to start dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey results indicate that urgent action is needed to tackle burnout and suicidal thoughts among nurses, the study authors said.

“While the findings of our study are serious enough, we recognize the impact of the current pandemic has dramatically compounded the situation,” senior study author Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, a Mayo Clinic internist, said in a clinic news release. “The need for system-level interventions to improve the work lives of nurses and other members of the health care team is greater than ever before.”

More information

The American Nurses Association offers advice on mental health help for nurses.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Oct. 22, 2021