Nurse Suicide: Prevention and Grief Management

Judy E. Davidson, DNP, RN, MCCM, FAAN; Rachael Accardi, MA, LMFT; Courtney Sanchez, LCSW; Sidney Zisook, MD


Am Nurs Journal. 2020;15(1) 

In This Article

Stress and Suicide

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), no single cause for suicide exists: "Suicide occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition." We know from our employee suicide prevention program (Healer Education, Assessment and Referral [HEAR]) that work-related stressors, such as a new manager, new team, recent relocation and loneliness on the job, feelings of inadequacy due to incomplete orientation, workplace conflict, lateral violence, workload, mismatched values, over-regulation and excessive rules, lack of autonomy and decreased decision latitude, and self or institutional blame for negative patient outcomes, contribute to suicide risk. Workplace stress in someone with biologic and psychosocial vulnerabilities (for example, pre-existing depression or performance anxiety), other nonwork–related stressors, or untreated or incompletely treated mental health conditions can create a "perfect storm" that leads to suicidal thoughts and even to suicide or a suicide attempt.