News from the FDA/CDC

Suicide rate higher than average for female clinicians



The suicide rate for women who provide health care is higher than that of all women of working age, while male health care practitioners are less likely to end their lives than working-age men as a whole, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide rates for those working in health care occupations, 2016

In 2016, the suicide rate for women classified as “healthcare practitioners and technical” – a category that includes physicians and surgeons, as well as chiropractors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners – was 8.5 per 100,000 population, compared with 7.7 per 100,000 for all working women aged 16-64 years. That difference, however, was not statistically significant, Cora Peterson, PhD, and associates at the CDC said in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For females classified as “healthcare support” – medical assistants and transcriptionists, phlebotomists, and pharmacy aides – the suicide rate of 10.6 per 100,000 was significantly higher than that of all working women, the investigators noted.

The suicide rate for males in each of the two occupation categories was 23.6 per 100,000 population in 2016, lower than the rate of 27.4 per 100,000 for males of all occupations, they said, based on data from 32 states that participated in the 2016 National Violent Death Reporting System.

For males, the highest suicide rates in occupations meeting criteria for sample size were “construction and extraction” (49.4 per 100,000); “installation, maintenance, and repair” (36.9); and “arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media” (32.0). Among females, the highest rates were seen in “construction and extraction” (25.5 per 100,000), “protective service” (14.0), and “transportation and material moving” (12.5), with healthcare support next, Dr. Peterson and associates reported.

“Although relative comparisons of suicide rates in this manner are useful for prevention purposes, these results should not overshadow the essential fact that the suicide rate in the U.S. working-age population overall has increased by 40% in less than 2 decades. Therefore, all industry sectors and occupational groups can contribute to reducing suicide incidence,” they wrote.

SOURCE: Peterson C et al. MMWR. 2020 Jan 24;69(3):57-62.

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