More nurses are seeking help over suicidal thoughts, research shows

Nurses are seeking help every day over suicidal thoughts driven by pressures at work, according to new research.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said there has been a 54% increase since November in nursing staff contacting its advice line saying they are struggling with suicidal feelings.

The RCN said the number of times it was being contacted over the issue has gone from seven a month in April 2022 to every single day in the same month this year.

An analysis of data from the RCN’s counselling service was said to show a direct link between suicidal thoughts and workplace pressures.

More than two-thirds of nursing staff contacting the RCN said workplace pressure was a key factor behind why they were seeking help, as well as working relationships, bullying and harassment, and work-life balance.

The RCN is urging governments and political parties to commit to funding mental health support for all nursing staff, and called for an end to the culture of mental health stigma that prevents people from seeking help.

Acting general secretary Professor Nicola Ranger said: “It should be a moment of great shame that nursing staff are being pushed so hard at work that they feel suicidal.

“Ministers and health leaders have allowed this mental health crisis to grow.

“Widespread workforce shortages and high demand for services have left nursing staff sacrificing their own welfare to care for patients. Intolerable levels of stress have become the norm rather than the exception. It is unacceptable.

“In every setting, nursing staff are suffering but governments and health leaders aren’t paying attention. NHS staff desperately need properly funded mental health support and for the underlying drivers of poor mental health, such as workforce pressures, to be tackled. The time to act is now.”

Hannah Cadogan, a nurse and a member of the RCN’s Suicide Prevention Steering Group, said: “Back in 2007 when I was first sectioned under the Mental Health Act as a nurse with suicidal ideation, my experience was that not many people were open about mental health difficulties, and certainly not in the world of nursing which was extremely isolating.

“The fact that nurses are contacting the RCN to share how they are really feeling is for me a step forward but this information needs to be acted on so that nurses are adequately supported with understanding – they can then, hopefully, continue to compassionately care for their patients effectively.”

– The Samaritans can be contacted on 116123 or email