NIOSH Releases Report on Suicides in the Workplace

suicide prevention lifeline with ribbonResearchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) used federal data on occupational injuries to determine a rate at which people have died by suicide while at their place of business between 2003 and 2010.  These figures were then compared that to the rate at which suicides happen outside the workplace.  This was then published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine.”

Before this study took place researchers would look at death certificates to figure out what the deceased did for employment before they died.  This was a complete backwards process.  With this new study the entire focus of the study was based on suicides that happen exclusively at the workplace.

Excluding the military the highest rate of suicides on the job occurred in people who are in the protective service industry – this includes police officers, firefighters, detectives and animal control workers, they had  a suicide rate of 5.3 suicide per 1 million workers.  The second highest rate was 5.1 suicides per 1 million workers for farmers, ranchers, and forest workers.  The third highest suicide rate was 3.3 suicides per 1 million workers for installation, maintenance, and repair workers.

Last year Newsweek conducted an investigation into suicides and the agriculture industry and found that male farmers tend to die by suicide twice as often as the general population.  It is believed that this is likely due to the easy access to guns, the lack of mental health in rural communities, and the exposure to pesticides which has been linked to depression.

Another interesting fact that was discovered in the research was that people between the ages of 65 and 74 had the highest rate of workplace suicides.  Also racial minorities seem to be at a greater risk for workplace suicides compared to non-workplace suicides.

NIOSH also noted the high rate of suicides among auto workers.  It is thought that this is because of a solvent that is used in auto repair that is known to have neurotoxic effects on humans.

There are always different reasons why people commit suicide, many underlying reasons that never even come to the surface and could have absolutely nothing to do with the actual workplace.  It could be that there is the place they chose to do it and it had nothing to do with work.  These facts were actually quite interesting to me because we hear about suicides as a result of many sports injuries, definitely hear about them within the protective community, but the farming and auto industry were shocking to me that they were so high on the list.


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