CDC: Deaths by Suicide Increasing Among American Workers

The report, "Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012 and 2015," examined the lifetime occupations of 22,053 people between the ages of 16-64 who died by suicide in the 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System in 2012 and 2015.

The suicide rate among the U.S. working age population increased by 34 percent during 2000-2016, according to a new report published Nov. 15 in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report, Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012 and 2015, examined the lifetime occupations of 22,053 people between the ages of 16-64 who died by suicide in the 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2012 and 2015.

The report found that in 2012 and 2015, rates of suicide were highest among males in the Construction and Extraction occupational group (43.6 and 53.2 per 100,000 civilian non-institutionalized working people, respectively) and highest among females in the Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media group (11.7 and 15.6 per 100,000, respectively).

Suicide rates for males increased the most in Arts, Design, Sports, and Media occupations (47 percent) and for females in Food Preparation and Serving Related occupations (54 percent) from 2012 to 2015, the report found.

"Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce," said Dr. Deb Houry, M.D., MPH, director of CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts."

The report found that the risk of death by suicide varies by occupation. For men, the top three major occupational groups by suicide rate in 2015 were Construction and Extraction; Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media; and Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. The top three major occupational groups by suicide rate in the same year for women were Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media; Protective Service; and Health Care Support.

Among both males and females, the lowest rate of death by suicide in 2015 was observed in the Education, Training, and Library occupational group.

The new report replaces a retracted report that had errors in researchers' classification of decedents' major occupational group, leading to errors in reported suicide numbers and rates by occupational group.

According to CDC, the workplace is an important place to center suicide prevention efforts due to the fact that many adults spend much of their time there. Workplace strategies for suicide prevention include employee assistance programs, workplace wellness programs, technology to provide online mental health screenings and tools, reduction of stigma toward mental illness and seeking help, and increased awareness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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    July/August 2019

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