A new study published in JAMA has shed light on the alarming rate of suicide among health care workers, particularly registered nurses, health care support workers, and health technicians. The study reveals that these professionals face a higher risk of suicide compared to individuals in other industries.
According to the study, health care workers in the US have an annual suicide rate of approximately 14 per 100,000 person-years. This is slightly higher than the rate of 13 per 100,000 person-years for non-health care workers. The findings underscore the greater risk for mental health problems and long-term work absences due to mental disorders among health care workers compared to those in non-health care occupations.
The study, which analyzed data from the US Census Bureau’s Mortality Disparities in American Communities data set, focused on causes of death among approximately 1.84 million employed adults between 2008 and 2019. It revealed that health care support workers have the highest suicide rates at 21.4 per 100,000 person-years, followed by registered nurses at 16, health technicians at 15.6, and physicians at 13.1. Non-health care workers had a suicide rate of 12.6 per 100,000 person-years.
These findings come at a time when some health care workers are considering strikes due to staffing shortages and worker burnout. The study highlights the urgent need for improved wellness programs and mental health support for health care workers. In response to these concerning statistics, the American Hospital Association has recently created a suicide prevention guide specifically tailored to the health care workforce.
Unfortunately, some health care workers may be hesitant to seek mental health resources due to fears of negative impacts on their careers or medical licenses. It is imperative that health care executives reassess wellness programs and ensure that workers have access to safe and confidential mental health treatment. Immediate action is needed to address the mental health concerns and risks faced by health care workers.
Overall, this study serves as a wakeup call for the health care industry to prioritize the well-being of its workers. By implementing comprehensive wellness programs and offering robust mental health support, we can create a healthier and happier workforce that is better equipped to provide optimal care to patients.
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