Suicide risk was 32% higher among all healthcare workers compared with non-healthcare workers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, with healthcare support workers and aides at greatest risk.


  • Study cohort of 1,842,000 individuals identified within the Mortality Disparities in American Communities dataset, which links 2008 American Community Survey participants to National Death Index records.

  • Healthcare workers defined as registered nurses, healthcare support workers (including nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides), health technologists and technicians, social/behavioral health workers (including social workers, counselors, psychologists, and others), other healthcare-diagnosing or -treating practitioners (including dentists, physician assistants, and others), and physicians.


  • Suicide risk was 32% higher for all healthcare workers (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR), 1.32; 95% CI, 1.13 – 1.54) compared with non-healthcare workers.

  • Of all healthcare workers, the risk was highest among healthcare support workers (aHR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.35 – 2.42), followed by registered nurses (aHR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.21 – 2.23) and health technicians (aHR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.02 – 1.89).

  • Suicide risk was not significantly higher for physicians, social/behavioral health workers, or other healthcare-diagnosing or -treating practitioners compared with non-healthcare workers.

  • The association between suicide risk and being a healthcare worker was significantly greater for women than men (P = .03).


“It will be important to identify and ameliorate specific work-related factors that contribute to mental health occupational risks of healthcare workers, especially registered nurses, health technicians, and healthcare support workers,” the authors write. “In the meantime, developing a coordinated range of workplace mental health interventions may be warranted.”


The study was led by Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, New York City, and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging. It was published online September 26 in JAMA.


Suicide deaths of healthcare professionals may be prone to underreporting. Mortality data were collected through 2019 and do not reflect suicide risks during the COVID-19 pandemic.


No disclosures were reported.

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