Urgent multi-faceted approaches are necessary to reduce the incidence of nurse suicide.
Education is an important aspect of reducing suicide rates. General practitioners and physicians see 45% of those who complete suicide within 30 days of their visit. Education should occur on screening and assessing for depression.
Education should also occur at a young age, focusing on effective coping mechanisms when stressors arise. Depression management education should be refreshed as often as possible.
One of the most significant approaches to decreasing nurse suicide involves system-level education. Continual training and awareness should be incorporated into education training for all nurses and healthcare providers, with increased education for nurses who work with and experience high stress and increased levels of trauma.
Screening is key to identifying at-risk individuals. If a problem is identified with screening, a referral is necessary for effective interventions and treatment (Mann et al., 2021).
There is a need for multi-level interventions. Societal-level actions include policy and practice changes. Self-care and wellness are absolute necessities (Lee & Friese, 2021).
It is important to recognize that we must move from crisis intervention to prevention. Preventing stress as much as possible can reduce the risk of suicide. Ways to decrease stress in the nursing environment include decreasing overtime worked, increasing staffing ratios, and increasing morale (Babapour et al., 2022).
Burnout and compassion fatigue also need to be addressed and mitigated. Burnout, classified as a psychological syndrome, emerges after there is prolonged stress at the workplace. Three signs of burnout include overwhelming exhaustion, lacking accomplishment or feeling ineffective, and feeling cynicism or detachment from the job (Maslach & Leiter, 2016). Emotional exhaustion may be evident and is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and difficulty adapting. Feelings of ineffectiveness can reduce personal achievement with a negative self-evaluation (Edú-Valsania et al., 2022).
Compassion fatigue can be a combination of burnout and secondary traumatic stress. The stress results from exposure to trauma, often repeated trauma, and is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion with an inability to cope with the environment. Compassion fatigue can lead to providing lower standards of care and can affect relationships with colleagues (Cocker & Joss, 2016).
Burnout and compassion fatigue can increase the risk of nurse suicide, especially when experienced with other risk factors and symptoms.