Gov. Beshear Declares May ‘Nurse Suicide Prevention Month’ in Kentucky

Photo by Anna Shvets

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 13, 2021) – In an effort to raise awareness about nurses’ mental health and help curb the rate of nurse suicide, Governor Andy Beshear has declared May as Nurse Suicide Prevention Month in Kentucky.

University of Kentucky College of Nursing Dean Janie Heath joined Delanor Manson, president of the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA), Donna Meador, CEO of KNA and other Kentucky nurse leaders who have advocated for increased nurse suicide awareness to announce the important prevention declaration during a virtual signing ceremony with Gov. Beshear on May 5.     

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“Nurses are known for providing exemplary care and compassion for their patients, but oftentimes they ignore prioritizing their own health and well-being,” said Heath, who is also president of the Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition (KNAC). “Bringing awareness to nurse suicide is an important step in our mission to support nurses’ mental health and encouraging a culture of self-care in the nursing profession. Thank you to Gov. Beshear for supporting Kentucky nurses and helping shine a light on this tragic crisis.”    

Studies show that even prior to the pandemic, rates of nurse suicide, depression and job-related stress were higher than in the general population. Female nurses, who make up 85% of the nursing workforce, are especially at risk for suicide. Female nurses are twice as likely as females in the general population to commit suicide and 70% more likely than their female physician counterparts despite facing similar risk factors.  

In addition to raising awareness, the UK College of Nursing along with the American Nurses Association, KNA, KNAC and others are addressing nurse suicide by providing expanded mental health resources and training for nurses.  The UK College of Nursing in recent years has put an intentional focus on improving the work-life balance for its faculty, staff and students by providing more easily accessible mental health resources, integrating more mental health practices into daily work life and offering more opportunities for mental health training and research. Read more about the College’s efforts to improve work-life balance and focus on mental health resilience

May has also been declared National Nurses Month by the American Nurses Association, an extension of the traditional National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and in addition to extending the Year of Nurse into 2021. 

In honor of both month-long declarations, KNA is offering several free events and continuing education opportunities including mental health and suicide prevention training.   

If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime 24/7 at 1 800-273-TALK and visit the ANA’s nurse suicide prevention resource site for more information.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.”  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

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