Suicide Among Nurses: What We Don’t Know Might Hurt Us
The goal of this article is to help nurses understand what actions they can take to help prevent suicide.
When celebrities die by suicide, discussion of this stigmatized topic makes its way into the headlines and conversations at work and home. That was true this year when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. These shocking deaths of two people who appeared to have it all once again brought our attention to this serious public health issue. We must remember, though, that no group—occupation, race, gender, socioeconomic status is immune to suicide. That includes nurses, who work in a profession that’s strenuous and stressful and requires a high level of compassion and empathy.
Unfortunately, nurse suicide has been a hidden phenomenon and hasn’t been adequately studied in the United States. The loss of a nurse coworker to suicide is more common than we realize because it’s frequently concealed by the family and organization. However, when we talk about suicide—its causes, who’s at risk, and how we can help to prevent it—we can save lives. The goal of this article is to help nurses understand what actions they can take to help prevent suicide.
Key Learning Outcomes
- Discuss the risk of suicide in nurses
- Identify protective factors for preventing suicide
- Describe suicide prevention strategies
Leah Heather Rizzo, MSN, RN-BC, CENP
Leah Heather Rizzo is associate vice president for nursing services at Geisinger Northeast in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and she’s a doctor of nursing practice student at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.