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Occupation-specific suicide risk in England: 2011-2015

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Ben Windsor-Shellard
  • David Gunnell
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-599
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Oct 2019


Background: Previous research has documented marked occupational differences in suicide risk, but these estimates are 10 years out-of-date and were based on potentially biased assessments of risk.

To investigate occupation-specific suicide mortality risk in England 2011-2015.
Method: Estimation of indirectly standardized mortality rates for occupations and occupational groups based on national (Office for National Statistics) data for England.

Results: Among males the highest risks were seen in low-skilled occupations, particularly construction workers (SMR 369, 95% CI 333-409); low skilled workers comprised 17% (1,784/10,688) of all male suicides. High risks were also seen among call and contact centre workers (SMR 290, CI 204-399); there was no evidence of increased risk among some occupations previously causing concern - male health care professionals and farmers. Among females the highest risks were seen in artists (SMR, 399 CI 244-616) and bar staff (SMR 182, CI 123-260); nurses also had an increased risk (SMR 123, CI 104-145). People in creative occupations and the entertainment industry: artists (males and females), musicians (males) and actors (males) were all at increased risk, though the absolute numbers of deaths in these occupations were low. In both males (SMR 192, CI 165-221) and females (SMR 170, CI 149-194), care workers were at increased risk and experienced a considerable number of suicide deaths.

Conclusions: Specific contributors to suicide in high-risk occupations should be identified and measures, such as workplace-based interventions put in place to mitigate this risk. The construction industry seems to be an important target for preventive interventions.

Declaration of interest: None

    Research areas

  • mortality, occupation, suicide, suicide prevention

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