Depression and Suicidal Ideation
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. overall and the numbers are growing. Over 50% of those who die by suicide suffer from major depression. Relative to other professions, nurses are twice as likely to suffer from depression. Specifically, CRNAs and SRNAs report high levels of stress and depression, which can be a risk factor for suicide.
To reduce the stigma surrounding suicide, we can begin by acknowledging its occurrence and discussing preventative measures. By starting conversations with those we feel are struggling, we can lend our support and save lives.
This Just In ....
Healthcare Practitioners are 8.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Find out more by reading the report, Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation, 2016.
Female nurses are more likely to die by suicide than male nurses. It was found that when nurses receive mental health screenings anonymously, they are open about substance use issues and accept referrals for treatment. Find out more by reading the national study, A Longitudinal Analysis of Nurse Suicide in the United States (2005–2016) With Recommendations for Action and an overview article.
About Suicide and Healthcare Statistics
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
- American Association of Suicidology
- Anesthesiology News, ACCRac Episode 107: Rates of Suicide Among Anesthesia Providers (podcast)
- Archives of Psychiatric Nursing: Nurse suicide in the U.S.: Analysis of the CDC 2014 Nat'l Violent Death Reporting System
- Becker's Hospital Review: US San Diego Program Combats Provider Suicide
- CDC: Suicide and Occupation
- HealthLeaders: Nurse Suicide is Real. Don't Ignore It.
- The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): Association Between Physician Depressive Symptoms and Medical Errors
- Lippincott NursingCenter: On the Lookout for Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Risk
- Nat'l Academy of Medicine: Nurse Suicide: Breaking the Silence
- National Center for Health Statistics: Suicide mortality in the United States 1999-2017
- Nat'l Institute of Mental Health: Suicide Deaths Are a Major Component of the Opioid Crisis
- Natural Medicine Journal: Gratitude Diary Improves Mood in Suicidal Inpatients
- TEDMED Video: Why Doctors Kill Themselves
Identify Warning Signs
Warning signs of suicide may present as verbal, behavioral, or a change in mood or affect.
Verbal Signs: Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, being a burden to others.
Behavioral Signs: Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun, increasing drug and alcohol use, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal and isolation, aggression.
Mood/Affect Signs: Extreme mood swings, depression, loss of interest, anxiety, agitation, anger.
Other Resources on Risk Factors:
You can be a lifesaver! Help prevent suicide by:
- Visiting your primary healthcare or mental health professional,
- Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255),
- Texting TALK to 741741 and chatting with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line for free.
Organizations should be encouraged to offer a screening program, such as the Healer Education, Assessment and Referral (HEAR) program at UCSD Health. Read the 2018 original study and the updated 2020 version, which reported the 3-year sustainability and outcome of the suicide prevention program.
Other Resources on Prevention:
- AFSP: When Someone is at Risk
- ANA: Mental Health Help for Nurses
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Treatments for the Prevention and Management of Suicide
- CDC: Suicide Prevention
- QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Institute: 3 steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide*
- Mental Health America: Depression Screening
- Workplace Suicide Prevention
*CE Note: Although the QPR training does not automatically earn CE, you may consider claiming for Class B Credits. See Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Program Explained.
After a Suicide
No matter the circumstance, this is a challenging and painful time. Allow yourself to grieve. Replace old terms such as “committed suicide” to “completed suicide,” “died by/from suicide,” or “ended/took their life.”
- Find local support groups,
- Do what feels right to you,
- Write your feelings or a letter to your lost loved one/colleague,
- Ask for help.
Other Resources as a Suicide Loss Survivor:
- AANA Wellness Milestones
- Higher Education Mental Health Alliance (HEMHA):
- New York Times: