Conference Call: ‘Suicide and Its Prevention: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives in Nursing, 1880–2020’

Deadline for abstract submission: 31 May 2021


May 19–21, 2022


Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Leiden, The Netherlands

About the Conference

The European Association for the History of Nursing and five professional nursing organisations from The Netherlands invite abstract submissions from nursing scholars, historians, ethicists, and social scientists from all countries in Europe. This pan-European conference will examine contemporary and historical perspectives on suicide and its prevention. The two-day Conference will be limited to a maximum of 75 participants. This is to facilitate a thorough discussion and debate around the conference theme, including comparisons of similarities and differences in practices across the various European countries represented. Such dialogue may offer new ways of thinking about suicide and new recommendations for education, clinical practice, and research. See below for details or download the pdf.

About the Conference theme

Suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behaviour may be studied from several perspectives. It may be seen as an individual psychological pathology, as a family and societal issue, or as an ethical concern. Hence, many disciplines have studied suicide and its prevention, including psychiatry, psychology, nursing, public health, economics, history, and ethics. It is therefore a topic that may be best examined through interdisciplinary lenses, combining, for example, psychiatry and nursing, psychology and nursing, and nursing history and ethics. The conference theme will therefore address a range of interdisciplinary perspectives and how they influence the theory and the practice of nursing in both general and mental healthcare settings.

The conference will explore the ways in which nurses have encountered and responded to suicide in contemporary mental health and general healthcare settings, in different social and historical contexts, and among particular groups, such as people with a depressive illness, people with a drug addiction, and soldiers and nurses during times of war. It will also review and examine how the nursing profession has addressed the impact of suicide on nurses themselves, and consider contemporary issues facing nurses as they respond to suicidal ideation, care for people following suicide attempts, or work with the bereaved. The conference may also review the epidemiology of and the risk factors for suicide among nurses.

The conference will examine contemporary and historical perspectives on suicide and its prevention, with reference to theory and practice. For the purpose of the conference theme, theory may be considered as the content of curricula in nursing education and training, didactic texts, such as books and journals, published national standards and guidelines, and other contemporary and historical documents. Practice may be considered as the ways in which nurses perform their professional role in light of theory and other forms of professional discourse.

Possible contemporary and historical topics to consider

  • The psychiatric and/or psychological concepts that determine(d) the interpretation and handling of suicide and patients with suicidal ideation, and the extent to which these changed the way suicidality was and is handled in nursing, regardless of the care setting
  • The theoretical education of nurses about care for suicidal patients, including the practical instructions in preventing suicide when a patient has uttered suicidal thoughts or shown suicidal behaviour
  • The influence of care for suicidal patients on the daily work and the professional self- image of nurses
  • The role of religious beliefs and ethical views in dealing with suicidal patients
  • The division of labour between psychiatrists and nurses with regard to suicidal patients
  • The extent to which suicide was or is related to insanity in the education, training, and practice of general and psychiatric nursing
  • The procedures after a patient had died by suicide and the way these changed over time
  • The role of the nurse with regard to aftercare of the bereaved
  • The support for or disciplinary measures against nurses who had been exposed to suicide
  • Suicidal behaviour among nurses themselves during the past 140 years

Possible ethical questions to consider

  • What tasks and responsibilities did and do nurses assume in dealing with suicidal persons and what specific ethical challenges did and do they face?
  • How did and do questions of nursing ethics and the attitude of nurses in dealing with suicidal patients differ, depending on their care setting, for example, the acute wards in general hospitals, psychiatry, palliative care, nursing homes?
  • Were and are nurses obliged to prevent suicide in all circumstances? 2
  • Did and do nurses have the freedom to take their own ethical stand with regard to suicide?
  • Were and are nurses permitted or willing to support people who want to commit suicide?
  • How were and are suicidal ideations by patients in general or psychiatric hospitals and by nursing home residents discussed in the context of nursing ethics?
  • Which groups of patients were and are the focus of the discussion on nursing ethics with regard to suicide, for example, children and adolescents, people with mental illnesses or people with a terminal physical illness?
  • Which gaps in ethical theory could or can be identified?

Guidelines for abstract submission

Abstract submissions should focus on contemporary and/or historical aspects of suicide and its prevention, including theory and professional discourse and how these have and continue to influence nursing practice. Abstracts should contain the following essential information: abstract title; a brief outline of the background; the aim and/or objectives of the paper; the sources of research or historical evidence being presented; the main findings and/or the key argument; a brief statement of conclusions with particular reference to knowledge and practice. Abstracts should be a maximum of 450–500 words.

For papers examining historical aspects of the topic, abstracts should contain specified dates in the abstract title and should list the historical primary sources consulted. For papers examining ethical aspects of the topic, abstracts should include a statement of the ethical theory, ethical argument, or ethical concern. All abstracts should be written in English and should be submitted with a brief biographical statement referring to the author’s current work and relevant research/publications. Abstracts exceeding the recommended word limit or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Deadline for abstract submission May 31st, 2021. Submitted abstracts will be peer reviewed by the Conference Scientific Committee. In addition, a selection of the accepted Conference abstracts will be considered for possible inclusion in a volume of the European Journal of Nursing History and Ethics in 2023. The authors of these selected abstracts will then be invited to submit a complete manuscript for further peer review.

Deadline for accepted manuscripts February 25th, 2022

Additional information Only one abstract per individual is permitted. Submit two copies of the abstract, one with the author name, author title and credentials, and the second anonymized.

Submit abstract to the following:

Prof. dr. Manon Parry at
Dr. Cecile aan de Stegge at