Over the past 18-months, there have been reports of a dozen cases involving suicide of white-collar workers who were employed by high profile financial firms at the time of their death. Overall, rates of death by suicide are generally lower among those with attained higher levels of education. However, depression can affect anyone no matter what his or her education levels and income bracket. Often, it is more difficult to recognize or respond to signs of suicidal ideation in those who appear, on paper, to have it all. This can make it more difficult to spot and prevent suicide risks among white collar workers and people in privileged positions.
Mental health counselors should know of all signs of suicide in all patients, including those with good jobs and advanced levels of education—the so called VIP patient. When a mental health professional misses signs of suicidal behavior and death by suicide occurs, a suicide attorney should be consulted by surviving family members for assistance. The death of a white collar professional can have serious financial reverberations on family financial stability and mental health professionals should provide compensation to dependents if the negligence of mental health professionals played a role in causing the death by suicide. If clinicians are not familiar with the VIP risk factor, they need to get familiar ASAP.
Why are More White Collar Workers at Risk of Death by Suicide?
Market Watch discussed the recent spate of suicides among financial professionals and considered why suicide rates are rising among white collar workers. Studies have demonstrated doctors, dentists, financial workers, veterinarians, lawyers, and engineers are among the professions with suicide rates at least 1.5 times the suicide rates among the rest of the population . Physicians have a suicide rate 1.87 times higher than the rest of the population, and dentists have a suicide rate 1.67 times higher than average. A part of this may be explained by easier access to dangerous pharmaceuticals that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Workers within these and other white collar professions may feel significant amount of career pressure. Many of the professions are highly competitive and workers within certain fields may have a particularly negative response to stress or to a crisis. While there has not been a clearly-established causal link between work pressure and higher risks of suicide for white collar professionals, it is possible the high levels of stress coupled with the intensive work environment are a contributing factor to more white collar workers taking their lives. Careers that are all-consuming may also isolate workers from family and friends, thus increasing the risk of death by suicide.
A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated the increased rate of suicide among individuals in these higher-profile and higher-paying careers is something which should be researched further. If a causal link is discovered between certain careers and an added risk of death by suicide, more actions can be taken to protect workers within that field.