Blue-collar workers face the highest risk of suicide in the US, report shows

In less than two decades, the suicide rate in individuals of working age in the US has increased by 40%, particularly affecting workers on the mining, oil and gas, construction, and vehicle industries, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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The report looked at data from 32 states that participated in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The public health institute reported that almost 38,000 people between 16 to 64 years of age committed suicide in 2017. This means a rate of 18 people out of 100,000, compared to 12.9 in the year 2000.

“Previous research indicates suicide risk is associated with low-skilled work, lower education, lower absolute and relative socioeconomic status, work-related access to lethal means, and job stress, including poor supervisory and colleague support, low job control, and job insecurity, the CDC wrote.

Among all men, the suicide rate was 27.4 individuals per 100,000 people, going up to 49.4 per 100.000 in the construction field. The professions with the highest suicide rate for men were mining, quarrying and oil and gas, with a 54.2 per 100.000 suicide rate.

Meanwhile, in the case of women, the rate for the total population was 7.7 per 100.000 individuals. Construction and extraction were the professions with the highest rate for women at 25.5 per 100.000 individuals.

The researchers said the report had several limitations. It didn’t look at the factors that might account for different suicide rates among and within the industry or occupational groups, it didn’t address suicide in unemployed workers, and the results aren’t nationally representative. Nevertheless, the findings highlighted the importance of prevention strategies such as increasing economic support, teaching problem-solving and coping skills and improving access to delivery of care. All industries can benefit from a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention, researchers claimed.

“These findings highlight opportunities for targeted prevention strategies and further investigation of work-related factors that might increase the risk of suicide,” according to the CDC.

The report also mentioned a set of strategies to improve the overall well-being of workers. The list includes training workers to detect early signals and respond to them, giving them more time off and benefits, reducing the access to lethal means and creating a plan to respond to the needs of others at risk.

CDC’s workplace strategies to prevent suicide

-Promoting help-seeking

-Integrating workplace safety and health programs to advance the well-being of workers

-Referring workers to financial and other helping services

-Facilitating time-off and benefits

-Reducing access to lethal means

-Creating a crisis response plan

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