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Suicide Rising in the Workplace

Much has been written about suicides and mysterious deaths among financial firms in the past couple of years. Two recent apparent suicides by junior analysts (at Goldman Sachs and another New York investment bank) have called attention to the high-pressure environment and long work hours still prevalent on Wall Street despite efforts by some financial firms to restrict weekend hours and shorten customarily long workdays. So reports Everyday Health.

However, it’s also part of a growing nationwide uptick in suicide in recent years, particularly in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and claims the lives of one million people worldwide annually.

A recent study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health compared workplace- with non-workplace suicides between 2003 and 2010, which revealed a spike in workplace suicides starting in 2007 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), perhaps linked to the concurrent onset of the economic downturn.

Workers in protective service jobs – e.g., police and firefighters – were seen to be somewhat higher-risk. Economic hardship among farmers (another high-risk profession) was also cited, along with increasingly fuzzier boundaries between work and home life – a trend frequently mentioned around the financial-services suicides.

Speaking of the need for heightened awareness of warning signs in the workplace, one medical expert says the majority of suicides in the U.S. are middle-aged white males, who spend a disproportionate amount of time working. She sees the trend as both a wake-up call for organizations and an opportunity for them to be more proactive regarding their employees’ mental health.

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