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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Testing a Strategy to Identify Incidence of Nurse Suicide in the United States.


The aim of this study was to test a strategy for quantifying incidence of nurse suicide using San Diego County data as a pilot for national investigation.

Worldwide, 1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds; more than 1 000 000 suicides occur yearly. Suicide rates for nurses in the United States have not been evaluated. This methodological article tested a strategy to identify incidence of nurse suicide compared with those of physicians and the general public.

Deidentified San Diego County Medical Examiner data from 2005 to 2015 were analyzed with a descriptive epidemiologic approach.

Overall RN (18.51) and physician (40.72) incidences of suicide per 100 000 person-years were higher than the San Diego general population, excluding nurses (15.81) normalized to 100 000 person-years.

Establishing incidence of nurse suicide is confounded by variation in reporting mechanisms plus incomplete availability of nurse gender data. Relatively small outcome numbers compared with the general population may underestimate results. Research using a larger sample is indicated. Nurse executives may decrease risk by proactively addressing workplace stressors.

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