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  • 13 November 2023
  • 2 min read

Why Are Female Nurses At A Higher Risk Of Suicide?

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    • Richard Gill
    • Lois C
  • 2
  • 791
Female nurses have a 23% higher rate of suicide than other women. “Suicide is a serious issue for the nursing workforce… Nursing staff contribute so much to our society, but too often it comes at a personal cost” - Stephen Jones, RCN Professional Lead for Mental Health Nursing

According to the Office for National Statistics, the rate of suicide among female nurses is 23% higher compared with women in the general population.

A new study, ‘Suffering with suicide’, is seeking to comprehend the reasons behind the higher suicide rate among female nurses.

The study is being funded by an award from the Wellcome Trust and will be conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey.

It is the first time that work specifically exploring issues faced by female nurses in the context of suicide will have been undertaken.

Do you think that such an investigation is long overdue, given that 89 out of every 100 nurses registered with the NMC are women?

"High suicide rates in female nurses have been documented for more than 20 years in the UK and other high-income countries, yet workplace practices, policies and research have failed to address the realities and contexts of nurses’ lives", explained Dr Ruth Riley, the leader of the study.

She added: "In providing a new perspective, we hope to understand the contexts and experiences contributing to distress and suicidality while providing a voice and platform for under-represented nurses."

"Suicide is a serious issue for the nursing workforce… Nursing staff contribute so much to our society, but too often it comes at a personal cost” - Stephen Jones, RCN Professional Lead for Mental Health Nursing.

Do you think the study will highlight failings on the part of healthcare employers to fully support their employees? And if so, will this prove a wake-up call to employers to focus more on staff wellbeing?

The Laura Hyde Foundation, a charity providing mental health support to medical and emergency services personnel, said it hoped the study would help save lives in the future.

The charity’s trustee chair Liam Barnes said: "Anything that allows employers to understand the root cause of suicidal ideation is extremely welcome, so proactive support options can be provided before these conditions manifest into tragic circumstances.

"Healthcare workers are unlikely to ask for help compared to the general population due to stigma. Circumstances around work-life balance, impact of work pressures on family and workplace bullying affect women more than men, but this needs to be investigated further to allow us to save lives" he explained.

Do you agree with Liam Barnes? Is there a stigma around healthcare workers asking for help? If so, to what extent do you think the social and professional pressures on healthcare workers are to blame?

Please let us know what you think in the comments.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123 or by visiting

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About the author

I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

    • Richard Gill
    • Lois C
  • 2
  • 791

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    • Lois C 19 days ago
      Lois C
    • Lois C
      19 days ago

      I believe this is the case. It also depends on the employer. There is still a stigma around nurses with ... read more

      • Agreed. Yes, if we can let people voice their experiences it will no doubt go some way to making a bad situation better. Thanks Lois.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Carol Robson 18 days ago
      Carol Robson
    • Carol Robson
      18 days ago

      Hi yes I believe regarding the high incidence of suicied amongst nurses is the factor that nurses join this profession ... read more