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CDC: Suicide Rate Among U.S. Workers Increasing

Suicide rates are highest for males in construction and extraction; females in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, the CDC found. Michelllaurence / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

From 2000 to 2016, the suicide rate among American workers has increased 34 percent, up 12.9 per 100,000 working persons to 17.3, according to a worrisome new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Workers with the highest suicide rates have construction, mining and drilling jobs, the U.S. health officials reported Thursday.


The CDC study does not explain why more U.S. workers appear to be taking their own lives. But by breaking down suicide rates by occupation, this can help doctors and lawmakers support the workers who may be most at risk of suicide.

"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 Debra Houry, director of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in a media release for the report. "Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts."

The study examined the occupations of 22,053 people aged 16-64 years old who died by suicide in 17 states in 2012 and 2015.

"In 2012 and 2015, suicide rates were highest among males in the Construction and Extraction occupational group (43.6 and 53.2 per 100,000 civilian noninstitutionalized working persons, respectively) and highest among females in the Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media group (11.7 and 15.6 per 100,000, respectively)," the CDC said.

The new analysis is a correction of a widely cited study from 2012 that erroneously showed that farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen have the highest suicide rate. That previous study has been officially retracted.

"Workplace suicide prevention efforts to date have focused primarily on early detection and tertiary intervention through the training of persons (i.e. gatekeepers) to identify those at risk for suicide and refer them to supporting services," the study states. "However, more research on the role of the workplace in primary suicide prevention is needed, including improving working conditions and reducing stress."

Here are the top three major occupational groups by suicide rate among males in 2015:

  1. Construction and Extraction
  2. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media
  3. Installation, Maintenance and Repair

And here are the top three major occupational groups by suicide rate among females in 2015:

  1. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media
  2. Protective Service
  3. Health Care Support

The lowest suicide rate in 2015 was observed in education, training and library occupations for both men and women, the CDC said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be visited here or 1-800-273-TALK [8255].

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