UK HealthCare

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

screenshot of Governor Beshear at virtual signing ceremony
screenshot of nurses at virtual signing ceremony

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.     

"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.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.