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New bereavement group launches in response to high rate of nurse suicide

New bereavement group launches in response to high rate of nurse suicide

This article contains mentions of suicide, for immediate help please call the Samaritans on 116 123.

A charity that provides mental health advice to UK healthcare workers is launching an online bereavement group for anyone who has lost a nurse colleague or family member to suicide.

Doctors in Distress, which runs a range of online programmes and webinars offering mental health guidance and support, has launched the ‘Space to Think’ group in response to ‘higher-than-average’ suicide rates among the nursing community.

The charity pointed to a University of Surrey report from 2023 which suggested one nurse takes their life every week in the UK, with suicide rates among female nurses 23% higher than women in the general population.

Last year data from the Royal College of Nursing showed the number of nursing staff seeking help for suicidal thoughts was up 98% in a 10-month period.

Meanwhile, an NHS England suicide prevention toolkit published last year warned nurses are at ‘particular risk’ of suicide because of a ‘unique combination’ of workplace pressures, patient demands and worries about seeking mental health support.

The free bereavement sessions, which will be led by a trained facilitator, will take place via Zoom every Thursday from May 2 to June 6 from 7.30-9pm.

A representative from Doctors in Distress told Nursing in Practice: ‘We are hosting the Space to Think bereavement group to create a safe space for people to talk and share with others who have been through the same awful experience.

‘This is the first group of its kind in the UK. Given the high rate of nurse suicide in the UK, we are committed to providing this space to anyone who needs our help.

‘This tragedy has far reaching effects for everyone in that person’s life and it can be difficult to know how to process the grief. It can be an extremely lonely place.’

The launch comes as new data reveals that the average nurse took a week off sick last year due to stress-related illness.

For nursing staff, the proportion of sick days attributed to psychological illnesses rose from 21% in 2022 to 24% in 2023, according to NHS England.


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