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There are so many sites with statistics on who is killing themselves in whatever profession. These sites sometimes reference the National Organization of Occupational Mortality and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I will reference both, but I still won’t be able to come up with 100% accuracy in the statistics I list. This doesn’t worry me as much as trying to explain why these professions cause suicide more than others. In doing so, I will start out by saying that men had much higher suicide rates than women. Also, as age increases, so do suicide rates.
Pharmacists are 1.29x more likely to commit suicide
This one makes sense to me. If I was surrounded by a candy store of narcotics every day, I’m not sure I could control myself. This leads to addiction, which can eventually lead down the road to suicide. In one woman’s account of a fellow pharmacist falling into that trap, it almost ended in suicide. The coworker wound up in the hospital after taking a ton of pills. Even after getting his license back, he relapsed and nearly drove himself to death again. A stream of evidence suggests that dangerous materials on a jobsite make suicide that much easier.
Precision Woodworkers are 1.3x more likely to commit suicide
“A growing group of experts is seeing perfectionism as both a blessing and a curse, prompting high achievement but making the achievers implacable self-critics” asserts Daniel Goleman in his article, “Higher Risks for Perfectionists” which attempts to explain the high number of artistry suicides. Perfectionists tend to respond poorly to medications and treatments, according to other studies. It seems that stresses such as getting things “perfect” can be a killer, especially if the art is a commission or for someone special. Usually, after finishing a project, the woodworker finds him or herself without a new commission and may become depressed when the money stops coming in.
Electricians are 1.3x more likely to commit suicide
Being exposed to electromagnetic fields all day has to do something to your mental state. I have to also wonder about accidental deaths in this field being labelled as suicide. It seems like in a dangerous job, danger would befall. When a person has to be as exacting with the little electrical components, it would be very stressful. Dealing with that every day may lead to depression and possibly suicide.
Heat Treating Equipment Officers are 1.3x more likely to commit suicide
Hydrogen sulfate is extremely toxic by inhalation, and guess who works around it? Immersing the self in this poisonous gas is sure to kill. Unfortunately, 25% of the deaths associated with it are of first responders. Other symptoms associated with hydrogen sulfate gas are, but are not limited to: tachycardia, bradycardia, dyspnea, and photophobia.
Farm Managers are 1.32x more likely to commit suicide
Newsweek’s April 18, 2014 cover page reads: Death on the Farm: Farmers are a Dying Breed, in Part Because They’re Killing Themselves in Record Numbers. I’m not even sure I need to write any more about it, since that pretty much sums everything up. The same story outlines the actions of a man who woke up one morning, shot all of his cows between the horns and then did himself in with an automatic rifle. Farmers have a hard time of it, what with the financial burden of keeping it all afloat and the excruciating work they endure every day. Another problem is the pesticides, which can be a slow poison over time.
Lawyers are 1.33x more likely to commit suicide
I married a lawyer once. I was there when he had to study for the state bar exam and I was actually wondering why he hadn’t blown his brains out after a while. The profession seems very stressful. The American Psychological Association claims that lawyers are 6 times more likely to experience depression, which makes a lot of sense right there. According to an article in CNN.com, eight of the 50 state bar associations have found reason to be alarmed. California, Montana, Iowa, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina have added a “mental health component to mandatory legal continuing education.
Electrical Equipment Assemblers are 1.36x more likely to commit suicide
I’m going to have to take a guess on this one. There was no literature that I could find on this job related to suicide, unless it was about China and the iPhone. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has apparently compiled the list I’m referring to, though the link is dead on their website. So I’m going to say that assembling electronics might be extremely boring and there might be a certain level of anomie involved. If you are feeling apart from your work, it can be mind-numbing to say the least.
Real Estate Agents are 1.38x more likely to commit suicide
It seems that suicide affects real estate agents even when they are on top. In 2009, Steven L. Good, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sheldon Good & Company was found dead in his Jaguar. His death created much turmoil in the real estate industry as the stress of selling pinches everyone in this profession already. And then there are the murders to worry about. Sarah Anne Walker was stabbed 27 times while hosting an open house. That sounds safe. Or there was Ann Nelson, 71, who was robbed, strangled, and beaten with a fireplace poker by a man she thought she was showing a house to. So there is more to be stressed about than sales in real estate, probably a lot more than just possibly getting murdered. Real estate seems like the prime breeding ground for suicide.
Pottery Throwers are 1.39x more likely to commit suicide
It’s impossible to find information on this profession and suicide. So I will postulate. Artists are the worst kind of perfectionists, and perfectionism can lead to depression. As we all know, depression can lead to suicide. Also, artists can fall into philosophical pits, like asking, “Is it all worth it?” too many times. In addition, you kind of have to be an artist to really appreciate the terror and heartache of making a giant mistake in your work. This alone can start a person thinking negative thoughts that could eventually lead to suicide if help is not sought.
Urban Planners are 1.43x more likely to commit suicide
Urban planners want to please their entire community. Everyone knows that you can’t please everyone all the time, though. With the unions, long hours, and competition for jobs, urban planners face stress at all angles. As well, there are the politics to contend with. The urban planner is stretched as far as they can go and then, as with the artists, if something does not go as planned, it can be devastating. Even though this profession brings in quite a bit of dough, it is not enough to keep some of this group of people around when push comes to shove – and it does.
Supervisors of Heavy Construction Equipment are 1.46x more likely to commit suicide
According to the Action Alliance Construction Industry Blueprint: Suicide Prevention in the Workplace, construction industry workers have a capability of fearlessness. The workplace is notorious for acts of bravado, stoicism, and toughness. People who engage in this kind of behavior often find it difficult to ask for help, so if a crucial time of depression comes around, they’re screwed. Supervisors of heavy construction equipment are stressed every day because the workplace includes near-death, fatal, and life-threatening accidents all the time. The supervisor is responsible for whatever happens, which can be a big downer. Also, when a job failure occurs, the supervisor’s identity is often tied to that, which can bring down a hefty load of shame. And we all know where shame will get you.
Chiropractors are 1.5x more likely to commit suicide
It was hard to find my own research on the suicidality of chiropractors, but then I just googled “chiropractor suicide” and a plethora of articles announcing the suicide deaths of chiropractors came up. I can imagine that this business would be difficult. The financial worries of staying afloat, plus the stress of putting people “back together” properly would add up over time. I don’t think chiropractors take insurance all the time and it would be hard to manage a business on self-pay. Also, many clients use a walk-in policy, so the chiropractor’s books are never full. This would add to a sense of insecurity, and then there’s the mountain of paperwork every night. It seems a fact that chiropractors kill themselves more than average people. But I don’t know why.
Financial Workers are 1.51x more likely to commit suicide
These are the people who jump to their deaths from skyscrapers. They are under tremendous strain to make money every single day. They work long hours and often feel pressure, whether it’s real or imagined, from their families to make more. Along with having extra money around, alcohol and drugs come freely. No one gives financial workers urine analysis, so all is good for a while. If the person has turned to substances, it is really difficult for them to ask for help. In fact, if you are working 16 hour days, you don’t have time to ask for help.
Veterinarians are 1.54x more likely to commit suicide
Thankfully, the rate of suicide among veterinarians has dropped considerably since the eighties, according to Psychological Medicine, June, 2013. However, an April, 2015 issue of The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association states that one in six veterinarians have considered suicide. Apparently, veterinary school is very depressing, causing up to 36 percent of its students to enter the field with a gloomy outlook. The handy access to drugs once inside the profession makes veterinarians easy targets for drug addiction and suicide.
Semi- and Unskilled Labor are 1.6x more likely to commit suicide
Let’s just admit that it’s a drag to have to work your butt off for low pay and any number of aggravations to get it. Back-breaking work can drag a person down, especially if going home means going to a shack. I didn’t put any information in here about migrant workers, but I think they are a good example of how hard a workday can be, how little pay a person can get, and how sad most of us would be if we were doing this for a living.
Dentists are 1.67x more likely to commit suicide
The September 1, 2007 Oral Health magazine reports that dentists are subject to an alarming number of health problems: “cardiovascular disease, ulcers, colitis, hypertension, lower back pain, eye strain, marital disharmony, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental depression, and suicide”. Well, there you have it. They are confined to a tiny room (smaller than a jail cell), looking into people’s bad breath holes. They are usually alone with a patient and maybe an assistant, but they can’t have conversation. Sounds dreary. I don’t even like to go to the dentist.
Doctors are 1.87x more likely to commit suicide
So that means that about 400 doctors kill themselves every year. Even though hospitals recognize the toll residency takes on a person, yet nothing gets alleviated and residents stay stressed. Then, you have doctors working 36 hours with little sleep. It sounds grueling, even if you are making doctor-scale money. And don’t forget the sense of fallibility a doctor must face. If he/she screws up, it’s your life instead of theirs. Oh, and the pills. The pills.
Marine Engineers are 1.89x more likely to commit suicide
I’m just going to guess that it’s the isolation in the engine room, the screaming noise of the machinery and the numbing aloneness of being way, way, out at sea (maybe with a few people whom you dislike?). Overboard, anyone?
Farm Workers are 5.1x more likely to commit suicide
According to an October 5, 2014 Scientific American article, it’s the pesticides. They are nasty, poisonous, and can cause all sorts of things from confusion to depression. This, along with the back-breaking work of farming and very little pay, can certainly lead to suicide.
Police/Firefighters are 5.3x more likely to commit suicide
While stress takes an increasing toll among police and fire departments nationwide, no one wants to talk about it. In professions where employees are supposed to handle problems on their own, it’s clearly not working out to stay silent. 300 cops annually commit suicide. That’s twice as many as are killed in the line of duty. Firefighters inhale smoke while risking their lives, causing cancer and other lung problems. Conquering that is hard enough without having to ask for help for a “mental problem”. Unfortunately, not asking can be a fatal mistake.
To round out The 25 Most Shocking Careers that Might Make You Kill Yourself, I’ve compiled data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Suicides Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Fact Sheet, August, 2009.
Statistics from Suicides during 2007-2008:
15 out of 251 suicides
Building and Grounds Cleaning Occupations
15 out of 251 suicides
Protective Services Occupations
25 out of 251 suicides
Sales and Related Occupations
26 out of 251 suicides
34 out of 251 suicides