A recently released report by the CDC offers a poignant reminder that many employees struggle with mental health issues.

The authors find that suicides have increased in the working age population overall by 34% between 2000 and 2016, and that the rate of suicide varies by sex and occupation. Men are more likely to commit suicide than women across all occupational categories, and the highest rate for men is in the category of construction and extraction category, while for women it’s in the category of arts, design, entertainment, sports and media.

Suicide Rates by Sex and Occupation, 2015

From Peterson C, Stone DM, Marsh SM, et al. Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012 and 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:1253–1260. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6745a1

The Surgeon General underscored that businesses have a role to play in preventing suicide. Work related factors that have been related to risk of suicide and depression include job strain, low decision latitude, low social support, high psychological demands, effort-reward imbalance, and high job insecurity.

Fortunately, employers can manage the characteristics of job and workplace environments that contribute to depression and heightened risk of suicide. Capacity building, along with a focus on promoting connectedness, are powerful ways of minimizing feelings of helplessness and isolation that can lead to suicidal thoughts. In addition, employers can provide universal training for employees to detect at risk co-workers and take appropriate action.

As payers for much of the nations' health care, employers can be instrumental in making sure that employees have access to mental health resources. Mechanisms for helping individuals cope can include medication, psychotherapy, and occupational therapy. These strategies can also be effective to improve mental well-being and interrupt suicidal behaviors.

Promoting good mental health may also benefit the business more generally, by reducing lost work time associated with mental health disorders.

Workplace suicide prevention resources can be found at the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.


Posted by Erin Peterson

Related Posts
    Current or Archive

    see all topics

    see all topics
    Keyword Search
      Lack of Time, Limited Interest in Offerings Cited as Top Reasons Employees Don’t Participate in Employer Wellness Programs, According to Integrated Benefits Institute Analysis
      May 15, 2024
      The Power of Appreciation on Employee Appreciation Day and International Women's Day
      Mar 28, 2024
      Navigating Disability and Productivity Challenges: Insights on Long COVID and Chronic Conditions
      Jan 30, 2024

      IBI Membership


      Get access to the latest tools and research on health and productivity.

      IBI Tools


      Use our resources and proprietary tools to turn data into action.