Work-Related Suicide and Workplace Suicide Prof. Craig Jackson Head of Psychology Division BCU [email protected] health.bcu.ac.uk/ craigjackson. Suicide Media Stories
“A teacher who set herself alight had complained about pressure of work, an inquest has been told. Janet Dibb, 28, had complained to her father about overwork.”
20 March 2004
“A family doctor hanged herself because of stress at work, an inquest has heard. Bury coroners' court was told Dr Dawn Harris, 38, who worked at the Lever Chambers practice in Bolton, became ‘angry, very distressed and quite hurt’ by problems at the busy medical practice.”
22 May 2004
2. Blames “extreme stress response”
3. Always best when involving females!
Roberts et al. 2009
Methods Examination of seafarers’ death inquiry files
The suicide rate (for suicides at work and unexplaineddisappearances at sea) in UK shipping fell from 40–50per 100 000 in the 1920s to <10 per 100 000 in recent years,with an interim peak during the 1960s.
Suicide rates were higherfor all ranks below officers
forLascars (Asian seafarers) than for British seafarers
forolder than for younger seafarers
were typically lower thanthose in Asian and Scandinavian merchant fleets
The suiciderate among seafarers was higher than the overall suicide rate in the general population from 1919 to 1970s, but following reductionsin suicide mortality among seafarers, it has become more comparablesince.
Petersen & Burnett 2008
Some studies have shown that physicians and dentists have elevated risks of suicide, while other studies have not.
Using all deaths and corresponding census data in 26 US states, they examined the suicide risk for working physicians and dentists.
Death and census data for working people were obtained from 1984-1992.
Age standardized suicide rate ratios (SRRs) were calculated for white male and white female physicians, and white male dentists.
Petersen & Burnett 2008
Petersen and Burnett say that health professionals have high performance expectations.
Suicide occursin other professional groups who put in significant effort tobecome established in society.
Authors left out many factors which may have influencedthe data
Marital status of doctors? self-poisoning? Addiction? Psychiatric disorders?
The working atmosphere is very important in the causation ofsuicide.
Overwork and burden of work are the precipitating factors.
Petersen & Burnett 2008
White female physicians - suicide rate elevated compared to the working US population (SRR 2.39, 95% CI 5 1.52–3.77).
White male physicians and dentists - suicide rates were reduced (SRR 0.80, 95% CI 5 0.53–1.20 and 0.68, 95% CI 5 0.52–0.89, respectively).
Older white male physicians and dentists, observed suicide rates were elevated
White female physicians have an elevated suicide rate. Only older white male physicians and dentists have elevated suicide rates, which partially explains the varied conclusions in the literature.
Observable in 75% of decedents in few weeks before death
Suspecting a colleague is contemplating suicide is difficult
Uncertain of what help to get
Not knowing where to send the sufferer
Reluctance to pry
The problems associated with suicide – drink, drugs, depression, bi-polar
disorder require professional assistance
One of the most important things that workplaces can do for someone who
may be considering suicide is to help him or her find professional help.
Traumatic for surviving staff
Even if not Workplace Suicide
Guilt over what could have been done
Some workers experience depression and consider suicide themselves
Grief counselling offered for those who want it (post-vention)
Let individual worker decide about post-vention
The need for Workplaces to Develop (i) Suicide Prevention and (ii) Aftermath Policies
Privatised in 1998
40,000 jobs gone since 1998
45% of those outside France
Used to be public sector employer
new working conditions
cultural & organisational changes needed
internal job transfers
4.3% fall in profits in 1Q of 2009
182 million customers in 5 continents
Deputy CEO Louis-Pierre Wenes (second in command) resigns
CEO Didier Lombard – vowed to end the “Spiral of death”
Suspending job transfers
French Labour Minister, Xavier Darcos wants:
2,500 biggest companies to plan “anti-stress” strategies
Plan it with Unions
Govt has 27% stake in FT
Health & Happiness now on “National Agenda” in France
Foxconn and the iPad
Manufacturing giant in China
Renowned for efficiency – 300,000 employees
Laptops, mobiles - Nokia, Apple, Dell HP
13 suicide attempts since Jan 2010 – 10 deaths
Foxconn and the iPad
Foxconn and the iPad
Compensation for families in poverty
Working conditions – long shifts, rigid,
Oppressive, poor pay
Company asked workers to sign a letter promising not to kill themselves
Building giant safety net to prevent jumpers from Dorms and Workshops
Hiring counsellors and Buddhist monks
TB (male engineer, 28) suicide in 2002 – hanged at home
Been working for 1 year in Singapore
Had party celebrating end of contract
2 suicide notes:
First addressed work colleagues “unfortunately the game has got the better of me – give my apologies to all the lads”
Second addressed his parents “I have been depressed for a while now – pressure of work has turned my mind into a ticking time bomb”
Cardiff Coroner – Mary Hassell: “It is hard to understand why someone described as happy-go-lucky should choose to end their own life over pressure in work.”
Classified as Murder or Homicide
Michael Todd case
Suicide following being caught after several affairs
Over 100 UK citizens
30 suicides per 10 suicides per 100,000 deaths in Scotland
22 suicides per 6 suicides per 100,000 deaths in Wales
18 suicides per 5.6 suicides per 100,000 deaths in Northern Ireland
16 suicides per 5.4 suicides per 100,000 deaths in England
Ages 15-44 have highest suicide rate in males
Ages 75+ have highest suicide rate in females
Slow decrease in UK suicide rates since 1990s
75% of suicidal deaths are Male
Sex split been same since 1991 – but may just reflect methods used
2006 5554 suicides in adults (15 or over)
2007 5377 suicides in adults (15 or over)
2008 5706 suicides in adults (15 or over)
Traumatic vs Non-Traumatic methods
Wolves 22.1 per 100,000 deaths 146 cases #101
Birmingham 19.3 per 100,000 deaths 541 cases #172
Dudley 18.0 per 100,000 deaths 147 cases #215
Coventry 17.3 per 100,000 deaths 146 cases #245
Sandwell 16.6 per 100,000 deaths 125 cases #268
Walsall 15.9 per 100,000 deaths 105 cases #294
Solihull 13.8 per 100,000 deaths 74 cases #363
Can we pin any of this to industry, ethnicity, decline, deprivation ????
TC (male mechanic, 37) suicide in 2002
1996 right ear severed in accident at work IBC Vehicles Luton
Prolonged tinnitus, headache, severe depression
2005 TCs widow at High Court for £750,000
IBC accepts liability for accident – not suicide. Awarded £82,520
Court of Appeal overturned award – Lord Justice Sedley claimed there to be no other cause. TC had previously been a
“rational man. . . The suicide was proved to have been a function of the depression and so formed part of the damage for which IBC were liable. . . To treat TC as responsible for his own death was an unjustified exception to modern views on the links between accidents and their causes”.
Suicides risen since 1989 and financial decline
Climbed higher in 1997 recession
Seems a natural end-point considering over-work and working hours
Prof Natalie Jeremiienko – Bureau of Inverse Technology Engineering
Created "Despondency Index" - correlating the Dow Jones Industrial Average with number of jumpers
Detected by "Suicide Boxes" containing motion-detecting cameras, under the bridge.
Boxes recorded 17 jumps in three months
US Data from 10,000 suicides and 135,000 deaths
15 occupations with higher / lower risk than the general pop.
Reduced to 8 after adjustment for socio-demographics
Dentists (X 5.4) Doctors (X 2.3) Scientists (X 1.5)
Nurses (X 1.5) Social workers (X 1.5) Artists (X 1.2)
Farm workers (X 0.69) Admin staff (X 0.85)
UK picture different – suggests Farm workers & Veterinary have one of highest rates (Mellanby, 2005)
Observable increase in suicides
Comparable between jobs
Adjust for sociodemographic factors
Assess Occupational Risk
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