• An investigation into suicide amongst ambulance service staff

      Hird, Kelly; Bell, Fiona; Mars, Becky; James, Catheryn; Gunnell, David (2019-01-14)
      Background In 2015, Ambulance Service Medical Directors raised concerns regarding a perceived increase in suicide deaths among ambulance service staff. The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) then commissioned a research study to investigate these concerns and provide recommendations towards a suicide prevention strategy. The aim of this study was to determine whether staff who work in the UK ambulance services (AS) are at higher risk of suicide than staff who work in other professions. Methods Data was requested from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) regarding AS staff suicide. Eighteen AS were invited to return data on Occupational Health (OH). AS in England and Wales (n=11) were also asked to return data on staff suicides. Coroners were contacted to request permission to review the records of the deaths. Results The ONS analysis of occupational suicide risk between 2011 and 2015 indicated that there were 20 suicide deaths amongst paramedics in England during that period. The risk of suicide amongst male paramedics was 75% higher than the national average. Over a 2 year period, 8 AS trusts identified 15 staff suicides (11 male, 4 female). The mean age of those dying by suicide was 42 years. Findings from coroners’ records indicated that the predominant suicide method used was hanging (66.7%). Conclusions The following recommendations have been accepted by the AACE: a) Develop a mental health strategy for all staff which includes specific emphasis on suicide prevention b) Review and assess suicide risk at times of increased vulnerability c) Collect and monitor data on AS suicides d) Review occupational health, counselling and support services e) Training for staff in identifying and responding to a colleague in distress f) Return to work discussions should consider and establish the status of an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. https://emj.bmj.com/content/36/1/e3.1. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/emermed-2019-999.6
    • Suicide among ambulance service staff: a review of coroner and employment records

      Mars, Becky; Hird, Kelly; Bell, Fiona; James, Cathryn; Gunnell, David (2020-03-01)
      Background: There is growing evidence to suggest that ambulance service staff may be at increased risk for suicide; however, few studies have explored risk factors within this occupational group. Aim: To investigate factors commonly associated with ambulance staff suicides. Method: Eleven ambulance service trusts across the United Kingdom were asked to return details of staff suicides occurring between January 2014 and December 2015. Coroners were then contacted to request permission to review the records of the deceased. Results: Fifteen suicides were identified (73% male, mean age 42 years). Inquest data were available on 12 deaths. The most common method used was hanging. Possible risk factors identified included recent return to work following a period of sickness absence, poor mental health, relationship and debt problems, history of self-harm and the loss of a driving licence/change in job role. Conclusion: Identifying characteristics of suicide among this high-risk group is important to inform the development of suicide prevention initiatives. Additional research is needed with an adequate control group to further explore the risk factors identified in this study. This abstract has been published with permission