Everyone experiences job stress, but some careers are more stressful than others. These high-stress conditions can lead to increased rates of suicide within certain professions.
While there are numerous data sets available detailing how careers rank in regards to suicide rates, many careers consistently hit the top of the charts. Based on data compiled from divisions of the CDC, news outlets, and other data sets, we’ve put together a list of the professions that make it onto nearly every chart, listed in no particular order.
Want to live a long and happy life? Consider avoiding these career paths.
Coming in at the number one spot most often, physicians really have it tough when it comes to job stress. The average population sees about a 1-2 percent rate of suicide whereas suicide accounts for 2-4 percent of all physician deaths, making them 1.87 times more likely to kill themselves than the average non-physician. Women physicians are 2.78 times more likely to kill themselves than the average female worker.
But is it really a physician’s job stress that leads to higher rates of suicide, or is it because they’re more efficient at it? Joshua D. Foster and IIan Shrira of Psychology Today theorize on several reasons physicians have a higher suicide rate than other professions.
Among these theories, they say that physicians are more likely to succeed in their suicide attempts because they know what drugs to use and at what dosage. In fact, physicians are four times more likely than others to use drugs as a means of suicide, not to mention that they have easy access to them.
Because there’s no difference in the rates of physician suicide between men and women, it’s also theorized that the job stress is simply higher, leading to depression. Since physicians are expected to be healthy, they may feel more reluctant to seek treatment. When they do seek help, therapists may believe they understand how to treat themselves because they’re doctors, greatly reducing their quality of care.
Like physicians, dentists also work in high-stress environments, leading to a 1.67 increased likeliness of suicide among those in the profession. The reasons for this is due to many of the same factors associated with physician suicide.
One study found that dentists experience an increased rate of mental disorders due to their high-stress jobs, but they rarely receive treatment for it. Part of this is due to the absence of preventative measures taken by universities and professional organizations.
3. Finance Workers
Finance workers, such as those working in financial service departments and sales occupations, are reportedly 1.51 times more likely to commit suicide than the average worker. By March 2014, the numbers were already up to 11 suicides in the financial sector.
Statistics show that there’s a correlation between financial worker suicide rate and the economy. When the economy is bad, suicide rates go up. Because people are constantly moving in and out of the industry, financial workers may feel they’re easily replaceable and don’t feel there’s a reason to stick around when things get tough.
Lawyers are also high on many lists, coming in as number four on a list reported by CNN.com. Unlike non-lawyers, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression, and according to the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance, 1.33 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person.
In fact, eight state bar associations are so concerned about this issue that they’ve implemented mental health components into continuing education requirements. This high suicide rate is likely due to the high-stress nature of the job, including long hours, excessive client demands, and the nature of adversity in the job description.
CNN.com reports that lawyer depression can start as early as law school, stating that 40 percent of law students already suffer from depression by the time they graduate.
5. Police Officers
While police officers don’t make the top of the charts for the average white male, it’s a profession souring in the charts for white women and black men. For white women, it’s the third riskiest profession for suicide, with a rate 2.03 times that of the average worker. It tops the charts as the number one riskiest profession for black men, where the suicide rate is 2.55 times higher than the average person, reports the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance.
Part of this is due to the stressful conditions police offers are put in, such as being faced with danger on a daily basis, being exposed to death and violence more than the average person, and adhering to high demands.
One study showed that police offers are twice as likely to display depressive symptoms and four times more likely to get less than six hours of sleep per night than the average employee. What’s more, the study found that working police offers were 8.4 times more likely to commit suicide than retired officers.
6. Real Estate Agents
According to the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance, real estate personnel are 1.38 times more likely to commit suicide than average. Part of this can be attributed to an uncertain paycheck, lack of benefits, and declining house values. Believe it or not, there’s also a risk involved in meeting strangers in vacant houses, which can put a lot of stress on agents and cause paranoia. In fact, in 2010, over one-third of on-the-job deaths for real-estate agents were murders.
A final profession high in suicide rates is electricians. White men are 1.31 times more likely to commit suicide, and black electricians are 1.78 times more likely than average to commit suicide. One study suggests that heightened and long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields could be a contributing factor. The theory is that the electromagnetic fields affect melatonin production, leading to higher rates of depression and therefore suicide. However, more research is needed to confirm this theory.
If you’re in one of these professions and have been feeling the job stress getting to you, read this article for further information on how to get help.
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