Suicide Among Nurses and Doctors


Recently I came across two stirring posts about mental health in the healthcare profession. Dr. Eric Levi discusses the Dark Side of Doctoring and Nurse Jess discusses the Dark Side of Nursing; both providing stark reminders that healthcare professionals, despite our resilience, despite our ability to see the truly horrifying, comfort the sick and dying, and leave the burdens of the previous patient at the door of the room in order to move on and care for the next, we are not immune to the dark thoughts of anxiety, depression, and suicide. The risk of suicide among Physicians and Nurses in the United Kingdom is 23% greater than that of the general popualtion, despite the rates of depression being equivalent. In the United States, the risk of suicide among Nurses is five to eight times greater than that of the general population. Those numbers may be surprising to some, but for many in healthcare, the shock is likely less and we can enumerate the myriad reasons why a colleague would take their own lives.

You are not alone. I know that even when surrounded by our family at home and our family at work, many still feel alone and isolated but the burden is not your burden alone. We often wonder who will care for those that care for others? I implore you to reach out.

If you need assistance most employers have an Employee Assistance Program that can provide with mental health care; most States have Nurse Peer programs for the same (if you are in Pennsylvania, it is PNAP or Pennsylvania Nurse Assistance Program). The National Suicide Prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24 hours a day and they have the option for an online chat.

If you think a loved one or a co-worker is in need of help, please reach out to them.

Share your stories, inspiration, and resources for help in the comments.

Thanks for joining me at huddle.