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Suicide by health professionals: a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001-2012

Milner, Allison J, Maheen, Humaira, Bismark, Marie M and Spittal, Matthew J 2016, Suicide by health professionals: a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001-2012, Medical journal of Australia, vol. 205, no. 6, pp. 260-265, doi: 10.5694/mja15.01044.

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Title Suicide by health professionals: a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001-2012
Author(s) Milner, Allison JORCID iD for Milner, Allison J
Maheen, Humaira
Bismark, Marie M
Spittal, Matthew J
Journal name Medical journal of Australia
Volume number 205
Issue number 6
Start page 260
End page 265
Total pages 6
Publisher MJA Group Australia
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W.
Publication date 2016-09-19
ISSN 0025-729X
Keyword(s) Adult
Age Distribution
Health Personnel
Middle Aged
Retrospective Studies
Risk Factors
Sex Distribution
Stress, Psychological
Young Adult
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Medicine, General & Internal
General & Internal Medicine
Summary OBJECTIVES: To report age-standardised rates and methods of suicide by health professionals, and to compare these with suicide rates for other occupations.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective mortality study.

SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: All intentional self-harm cases recorded by the National Coronial Information System during the period 2001-2012 were initially included. Cases were excluded if the person was unemployed at the time of death, if their employment status was unknown or occupational information was missing, or if they were under 20 years of age at the time of death. Suicide rates were calculated using Australian Bureau of Statistics population-level data from the 2006 census.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Suicide rates and method of suicide by occupational group.

RESULTS: Suicide rates for female health professionals were higher than for women in other occupations (medical practitioners: incidence rate ratio [IRR], 2.52; 95% CI, 1.55-4.09; P < 0.001; nurses and midwives: IRR, 2.65; 95% CI, 2.22-3.15; P < 0.001). Suicide rates for male medical practitioners were not significantly higher than for other occupations, but the suicide rate for male nurses and midwives was significantly higher than for men working outside the health professions (IRR, 1.50; 95% CI 1.12-2.01; P = 0.006). The suicide rate for health professionals with ready access to prescription medications was higher than for those in health professions without such access or in non-health professional occupations. The most frequent method of suicide used by health professionals was self-poisoning.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate the need for targeted prevention of suicide by health professionals.
Language eng
DOI 10.5694/mja15.01044
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
1117 Public Health And Health Services
1103 Clinical Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, AMPCo
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