In a report issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, workplace suicide is said to be on the rise. The study looked at figures from 2003 to 2010 and found that people working in the protective services profession, like the military, law enforcement, and medicine were most at risk, followed by those in forestry, fishing and farming. Another finding was that men are 15 times more apt to commit suicide at work than women.
Every year across the world approximately a million people decide to commit suicide. This can’t be an easy decision because all our instincts as humans are to protect ourselves. The decision to take one’s life usually occurs when the individual starts becoming mentally ill, at the outset. In today’s society where so many people’s lives seem to blend with their job, work stress can lead to a tragedy like this. Statistics from the report mentioned above show that 1,700 people died as a result of workplace suicide between the years of 2003 to 2010.
During periods of severe economic upset and worry, people might think they have no way out. A different study discovered that the recent economic recession might have contributed to 10,000 suicides that occurred in North America. However, even if being out of work causes just 20% of suicides, there are still a lot of people who are gainfully employed that choose to take their lives.
Epidemiologist Hope Tiesman, Ph.D., who works at the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, says that the line between personal life and work life is becoming blurred. People’s identities today have more to do with what they do for a living, rather than the kind of people they are. It’s so easy to say, “I’m a teacher” or “I’m a veterinarian,” and not think about the fact that we’re all humans first and foremost.
There are complex reasons for someone taking their own life, no matter where the suicide takes place, involving many different factors. Among these are work-related and financial stressors.
Foxconn, located in Shenzhen, China, is one of the largest employers of factory workers in the world. In 2010 there were 18 workers who attempted suicide. Two years later in 2012 another 150 workers threatened to jump en masse to their death protesting terrible working conditions and low wages. When someone has a gun it is a lot easier to commit suicide than to jump out a window at work, which might explain why those in law enforcement are more than 3.5 times as apt to commit suicide at work than people working in other types of jobs.
Risk factors involved in committing suicide are varied, including the state of someone’s physical and/or mental health as well as genetics; this includes those committing suicide at work. But there is no question that the greatest risk has to do with whether the person has the means, like prescription painkillers or a gun, to use in taking their life.
What sounds surprising though is that there are more incidents of workplace suicide among farmers than police officers. It may be due to their rural isolation and financial pressures as those factors have been linked to suicide.
The research shows that employers should look for signs that an employee may be exhibiting signs of suicidal behavior. Workers in protective services – such as doctors, firefighters and police officers – have the highest rates of suicide and these first responders need mental health programs, such as employee assistance programs, that address the symptoms of workplace suicide. These programs should be specifically designed for the type of occupation and conditions under which their employees are working. It is extremely important that people who may be contemplating workplace suicide have someone available to help him or her handle any problems they are dealing with at work. They need to know there is someone invested in reducing the stress that may lead to them committing suicide at work,