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Work-related suicide
  1. J Ozanne-Smith*,
  2. V Routley
  1. Correspondence Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, 57–83 Kavanagh St. SouthBank, Victoria, Australia

Abstract

Introduction While unintentional work-related injury is increasingly recognised as an important and preventable public health problem, population studies of the full range of work-related suicide reported to coroners have received less attention.

Objective To investigate the epidemiology of work-related suicide in Victoria, Australia, July 2000–December 2006

Method This study draws on a database of all work-related deaths reported to the Victorian Coroner, inclusive of broadly defined work-relatedness. Inclusion criteria for work-related suicide occurring between July 2000 and December 2006 were as follows:

work stressors identified in police reports to the coroner or the coroner's finding; or

suicide method involved another person's work (eg, heavy vehicle); or

suicide location was a workplace; or

means of suicide was work-related; or

deceased working for income at the time of death.

Excluded were as follows:

cases still open for investigation;

commuting to work;

DIY-related.

Results There were 613 work-related suicides over the study period, compared with 969 unintentional work-related injury fatalities. Of the suicides, 56% directly involved work stressors; 31% jumped or lay in front of a moving train or heavy vehicle; 4% involved work agents; and 9% other. Detailed analyses of work stressor cases identified business difficulties, unemployment/redundancy, recent or previous work injury, and, infrequently, workplace bullying. The complexity of multiple contributing factors will be addressed.

Discussion and Conclusions Work-related suicide is a substantial problem, for which few detailed population-wide studies are available. Further research is required to understand the contribution of work stressors and effective interventions.

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