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Nurse Educ Today. 2014 Apr;34(4):520-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Jul 23.

Associations between emotional intelligence, depression and suicide risk in nursing students.

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Gimbernat Nursing School, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:
Gimbernat Nursing School, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Faculty of Psychology and Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (IR3C), University of Barcelona, Barcelona Spain.



The most important factor which predisposes young people to suicide is depression, although protective factors such as self-esteem, emotional adaptation and social support may reduce the probability of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Several studies have indicated an elevated risk of suicide for health-related professions. Little is known, however, about the relationship between perceived emotional intelligence and suicide risk among nursing students.


The main goals were to determine the prevalence of suicide risk in a sample of nursing students, to examine the relationship between suicide risk and perceived emotional intelligence, depression, trait anxiety and self-esteem, and to identify any gender differences in relation to these variables.


Cross-sectional study of nursing students (n=93) who completed self-report measures of perceived emotional intelligence (Trait Meta-Mood Scale, which evaluates three dimensions: emotional attention, clarity and repair), suicide risk (Plutchik Suicide Risk Scale), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale), depression (Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale) and anxiety (Trait scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory).


Linear regression analysis confirmed that depression and emotional attention are significant predictors of suicidal ideation. Moreover, suicide risk showed a significant negative association with self-esteem and with emotional clarity and repair. Gender differences were only observed in relation to depression, on which women scored significantly higher. Overall, 14% of the students were considered to present a substantial suicide risk.


The findings suggest that interventions to prevent suicidal ideation among nursing students should include strategies to detect mood disorders (especially depression) and to improve emotional coping skills. In line with previous research the results indicate that high scores on emotional attention are linked to heightened emotional susceptibility and an increased risk of suicide. The identification and prevention of factors associated with suicidal behaviour in nursing students should be regarded as a priority.


Anxiety; Depression; Emotional intelligence; Mental health; Nurse education; Self-esteem; Suicide risk

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