There are few links between the characteristics of specific occupations and the risk of suicide in Canada, according to a recent study published in theCanadian Journal of Psychiatry. The study followed a representative sample of Canadians, aged 25 and older in 1991, who were either active or not active in one of 80 specific occupational groups in five categories of skill level. Data was matched to suicide mortality until the end of 2001.
For both men and women, suicide mortality risk is inversely related to skill level: those in unskilled occupations were more than twice as likely to commit suicide than those working in higher skill levels, and those not active in their occupations had suicide rates over three times higher than those in managerial occupations.
The researchers linked the limited associations between characteristics of specific occupations and suicide risk found in the study to prevention strategies. Elevated suicide risk for men was found in some occupations that provided greater potential exposure to neurologically active chemicals (e.g., agricultural and heavy equipment operating occupations) and occupations that may provide access to lethal means for committing suicide (e.g., allied health care occupations). Researchers suggest that suicide prevention strategies should continue to emphasize controlled access to pharmaceuticals and other lethal means and exposure to toxic compounds.
See “Suicide Mortality by Occupation in Canada, 1991-2001,” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (June 2010; 55: 369-376), available at publications.cpa-apc.org.