Nurses more likely to have suicidal thoughts than other workers, Mayo study finds

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Nurses are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than other members of the U.S. workforce and are less likely to tell anyone about it, according to a study published in the American Journal of Nursing.

Researchers from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic surveyed 7,378 nurses and 5,198 members of the general workforce on their overall well-being in November 2017.

About 5.5 percent of nurse respondents reported having suicidal ideation within the past year. Among general workers, this figure was 4.3 percent. Overall, nurses were more than twice as likely to say they would seek professional help for a serious emotional problem compared to general workers. Nurses who said they recently had suicidal thoughts, however, were less willing to seek help than nurses who had not. 

In addition, 38.2 percent of nurses reported at least one symptom of burnout, and 43.3 percent screened positive for depression symptoms. Researchers found burnout was strongly associated with suicidal ideation among nurses.

Researchers said it's important to note survey responses were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic placed additional stress on healthcare workers.

"While the findings of our study are serious enough, we recognize the impact of the current pandemic has dramatically compounded the situation," study author Liselotte Dyrbye, MD, a Mayo Clinic internist, said in an Oct. 22 news release. "The need for system-level interventions to improve the work lives of nurses and other members of the healthcare team is greater than ever before."

View the full study here.

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