Bureau of Labor Statistics NIOSH Fire/emergency medical services Law enforcement

NIOSH: Police officers, firefighters have highest rate of suicide

police officer

Photo: John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock

Morgantown, WV – Workplace suicides are on the rise, and workers in protective services – such as firefighters and police officers – have the highest rate, according to recent research from NIOSH.

Researchers analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2003 to 2010, and found that protective service workers have a workplace suicide rate of 5.3 per 1 million workers – more than 3 times the overall workplace suicide average.

Jobs with a high risk of suicide include police officers and doctors, possibly because of access to “lethal means” such as drugs and guns, according to a press release. Stress and economic factors also have been connected to suicide in these jobs.

Other findings include:

  • Workers in farming, fishing and forestry had the second highest rate (5.1) of suicide.
  • Workplace suicides among men were 15 times higher than among women.
  • Suicides were nearly 4 times higher for workers 65 to 74 than workers 16 to 24.

Additional studies should be conducted on suicide risk factors and potential workplace programs, researchers said in the press release.

The study was published online March 16 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.