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Studies have shown that people working in certain fields have an increased risk of completed suicide, indicating that there is an association between suicide and job stress. Suicide and job stress typically occur in highly demanding occupations such as farmers and physicians. Depression, financial stress and marital discord are often related to suicide and job stress too.

In order to get more details about suicide and job stress, a comprehensive meta-analysis was done reviewing 34 studies on those who committed suicide based on their occupation. The International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) was used to identify the occupations in the study.

The results of this meta-analysis confirm that there are groups of occupations that have increased risk of committing suicide when compared to other occupations. The occupations at higher risk for suicide and job stress were:

  • Laborers
  • Cleaners
  • Elementary occupations (those performing simple and routine tasks)
  • Machine operators
  • The deck crew of a ship
  • Farmers and agricultural workers
  • Service workers (like the police, firefighter, etc.)
  • Those in skilled trades like electricians and contractors

Although the findings clarified these facts about people who committed suicide, there have previously been very few articles written on the elevated risk of suicide and job stress for people in these occupations. The study was unable to assess the impact of depression on suicide.  Interestingly, the lowest risk for committing suicide was found to be for managers and clerical workers.  This finding was somewhat surprising as managerial positions tend to be difficult and demanding, so we might think there would be a relationship between those in this role, suicide and job stress.

It is possible that the higher risk of suicide in jobs requiring a low level of skill may be because of factors such as:

  • Lower wages
  • Lower level of education
  • Socio-economic disadvantages
  • Limited access to health care

But if this is the case why the elevated rate among people in highly skilled professions? These individuals would be making a good income and be highly educated.  We would need to look at access to lethal methods to complete suicide and job stress.  For example, if you look at the higher risk ISCO categories with access to lethal methods they would be:

  • Farmers – more likely to use firearms
  • Police – have access to firearms
  • Military – have access to firearms
  • Medical Professionals – more likely to overdose on drugs

Following up on the relationship between suicide and job stress, a study in New Zealand suggested that the quality of working conditions may also explain the variations among different occupations. Psychosocial stressors related to the job, such as low job control, minimal social support and high demands on the job, could contribute to suicide and job stress.  Depression may also be a common factor related to completed suicides in all of these circumstances.

The results of this study showed that there needs to be a priority placed on early identification of risk for suicide and job stress, especially in certain occupational settings. There should be preventive efforts for people working in lower skilled jobs, where people have limited access to financial resources, health care and social support. More research is needed regarding the detection of depression and suicide prevention in the workplace. Employees need to be encouraged to seek treatment for depression and employers need to be aware that any talk of suicide should be taken very seriously.  The relationship between suicide and job stress is real.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or thoughts of suicide, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.