Suicide Risk Among U.S. Nurses and Physicians

There are roughly 3 million nurses working in the United States, making it the country’s largest health care workforce—85% of whom are women. According to a U-M School of Nursing study, female nurses are roughly twice as likely to commit suicide than the general female population and 70% more likely than female physicians.

The study findings illuminate the need for high-quality wellness programs for nurses: Nurses are 90% more likely to experience on-the-job problems and 20-30% more likely to be depressed than the general population.

Study co-author and Elizabeth Tone Hosmer Professor of Nursing, Chris Friese discusses the findings, risk factors and the need for high-quality wellness programs for nurses with Michigan News.

Lead author and U-M School of Nursing Associate Professor, Matthew Davis and colleagues believe the study is the most comprehensive to data on suicide among nurses. They analyzed mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control from 2007 to 2018, identifying 2,374 suicides among nurses, 857 among physicians and 156,141 in the general population. Among its limitations, the study used pre-collected data and many of its measures relied on interpretation of medical examiner reports. Hear more from Matthew Davis in an interview with JAMA Psychiatry.