The British Journal of Psychiatry

Abstract

Background

Suicide rates vary by occupation but this relationship has not been frequently studied.

Aims

To identify the occupations with significantly high suicide rates in England and Wales in 2001–2005 and to compare these with rates from previous decades.

Method

Mortality data from death registrations in England and Wales over the calendar years 2001–2005 were used to calculate proportional mortality ratios (PMRs) and standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) for both men and women aged 20–64 years by their occupation.

Results

Among men, in 2001–2005, construction workers, and plant and machine operatives had the greatest number of suicides. The highest PMRs were for health professionals (PMR=164) and agricultural workers (PMR=133). Among women, administrative and secretarial workers had the greatest number of suicides yet the highest PMRs were found for health (PMR=232), and sport and fitness (PMR=244) occupations.

Conclusions

Excess mortality from suicide remains in some occupational groups. The apparent changes in suicide patterns merits further exploration, for example examining the prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation in medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians, agricultural workers, librarians and construction workers.

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