Serious cases of suicide in the US this year has been already observed and this issue is also becoming rampant for health workers too.

It was estimated that there are between 300 to 400 physicians who die from suicide in the US yearly.

In an article, Judy E. Davidson, DNP, RN, FCCM, FAAN, a nurse scientist at UC San Diego Health, discovered, the same type of national data on nurse suicide rates is lacking.

"We had nurse suicides in our own workforce and when we started talking to people, we found that many knew someone who had a nurse suicide in their organization. So, it wasn’t just us," she says. "But then, when we went to the literature, there was no accounting for nurse suicide at a national level."

"My hunch is, if every organization only has one [suicide], you don’t think of it as a problem," Davidson says.

To give context to the issue, she gives the example of pressure ulcers on a med-surg unit. If each med-surg unit only had one patient with a pressure ulcer, they might write it off as "only one."

"But if you add them all together, you’re over the national benchmark for your organization in pressure ulcers," she says. Looking at nurse suicide through that lens helps to put the issue in perspective. "It really brings up the concrete message that we cannot hide this," she says. "The more we talk about it the more lives we can save."

UCSD Health had directed an expansion of the Healer Education, Assessment and Referral program to nurses. The HEAR program was already established to identify physicians at risk for suicide and to facilitate referrals to mental healthcare.

HEAR program included 1-hour sessions on the risks of burnout, depression, and suicide; a personal account from a nurse who had experienced suicidal ideation; and a presentation on the purpose of the program from nursing leadership.

The chief nursing officer then sent an invitation for nurses to participate in the anonymous, encrypted, online screening.

Below are the results of the HEAR program pilot expansion that were published in the February 2018 issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration during the first six months of the program:

  • 172 of the organization's 2,475 nurses completed questionnaires
  • 43% ranked as high risk
  • 55% were moderate risk
  • 12 individuals reported current active thoughts or actions of self-harm
  • 19 individuals reported previous suicide attempts
  • 44 nurses received in-person or verbal counseling
  • 17 individuals accepted referral for continued treatment


As part of the said pilot study, nurses identified factors that were causing them stress in an open-ended comments section.


Work stressors include:

  • Management issues
  • Work volume
  • Staffing
  • Changing departments
  • Feeling unappreciated at work
  • Stress related to learning new skills or teaching others
  • Lateral violence
  • Fear of harming patients
  • Feelings of incompetence
  • Emotional burden of patient care


While, Home stressors include:

  • Marital strain
  • Financial issues
  • Personal or family health issues
  • Grief
  • Lack of purpose in life
  • Childcare
  • Academic stress
  • Loneliness after moving
  • Personal or family drug or alcohol use


Erudite Nursing Institute™, urges nurse leaders to be more vigilant in terms of this suicidal issue present in workplaces in healthcare. Though it is not part of their job, critical measures should be taken in order save lives not just patients but also their co-workers as well.



LINK SOURCES: Update 2017/HEAR Program (Healer Education, Assessment and Referral).pdf



Note: The foregoing article is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in part or entirety without advance written permission. For permissions or editorial corrections, contact: Ms. Kelsey Hanna,







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