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Open Access Suicide among ambulance service staff: a review of coroner and employment records

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

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.

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Keywords: ambulance staff; paramedics; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Bristol; University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation 2: Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust 3: Association of Ambulance Chief Executives 4: University of Bristol; University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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