'Suffering with suicide': Revisioning distress and nurse suicidality through a feminist, critical suicidology lens

Year of award: 2023


  • Dr Ruth Riley

    University of Surrey, United Kingdom

  • Dr Barbara Howard-Hunt

    Birmingham City University, United Kingdom

  • Dr Gloria Likupe

    University of Hull, United Kingdom

  • Prof Jill Maben

    University of Surrey, United Kingdom

  • Dr Jennifer Oates

    University of Surrey, United Kingdom

  • Dr Georgina Morley

    Cleveland Clinic Foundation, United States

Project summary

The risk of suicide in female nurses is 23% higher compared to women in other occupational groups. There are over 550,000 registered nurses in England, 64% of whom work in the NHS and social care. Most of the nursing population are women (89%) and ethnically diverse (40% of the NHS workforce; 60% in social care). Current suicide research is gender- and colour-blind. Research paradigms and positions exploring elevated suicide rates in female nurses are limited, obscuring potential solutions by focusing on individual risk factors and pathology and privileging quantitative methodologies and positivism. This novel project will employ qualitative, philosophical positions which provide representation and visibility for diverse voices. It will also illuminate experiences and factors of relevance. This will be the first study worldwide to employ a critical suicidology lens with a feminist methodology to identify contexts contributing to distress and suicidality in nurses. This innovative, important research will address critical knowledge gaps, aiming to elucidate under-researched work contexts and under-represented experiences. It comprises six work packages led by an interdisciplinary, diverse team of nurses, critical suicidologists, sociologists, psychologists, bioethicists, anthropologists and public engagement specialists, in collaboration with storytellers and filmmakers, to generate knowledge and shape future research and policy.