Chelsea L. Martin, Morgan Richey, David B. Richardson, Maryalice Nocera, John Cantrell, Elizabeth S. McClure, Amelia T. Martin, Stephen W. Marshall, Shabbar I. Ranapurwala

25‐Year fatal workplace suicide trends in North Carolina: 1992–2017

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

AbstractBackgroundSuicide is a serious public health problem in the United States, but limited evidence is available investigating fatal suicides at work. There is a substantial need to characterize workplace suicides to inform suicide prevention interventions and target high‐risk settings. This study aims to examine workplace suicide rates in North Carolina (NC) by worker characteristics, means of suicide used, and industry between 1992 and 2017.MethodsFatal workplace suicides were identified from records of the NC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner system and the NC death certificate. Sex, age, race, ethnicity, class of worker, manner of death, and industry were abstracted. Crude and age‐standardized homicide rates were calculated as the number of suicides that occurred at work divided by an estimate of worker‐years (w‐y). Rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated, and trends over calendar time for fatal workplace suicides were examined overall and by industry.Results81 suicides over 109,464,430 w‐y were observed. Increased rates were observed in workers who were male, self‐employed, and 65+ years old. Firearms were the most common means of death (63%) followed by hanging (16%). Gas service station workers experienced the highest fatal occupational suicide rate, 11.5 times (95% CI: 3.62–36.33) the overall fatal workplace suicide rate, followed by Justice, Public Order, and Safety workers at 3.23 times the overall rate (95% CI: 1.31–7.97).ConclusionOur findings identify industries and worker demographics that were vulnerable to workplace suicides. Targeted and tailored mitigation strategies for vulnerable industries and workers are recommended.

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