Suicidal work Your job can drive you to kill yourself, but don’t expect your suicide to be counted in official work fatality statistics or for the boss to end up in court. Leeds University researcher Sarah Waters highlights how the UK is turning a ‘blind eye’ to a major workplace killer.
Hazards 137, March 2017
Crying shame Most of us have seen someone reduced to tears by work stresses. But crying can be just the start of it. Some workers get so distressed they opt for suicide. Hazards 101, February 2008
dead It's the thoroughly modern way to die at work. Top occupational
diseases of the 21st century will be heart attacks, suicide and strokes. Hazards argues that none of us should be worked into the ground.
Special online briefing, Hazards, 5 August 2003
Worked to death The cases aren't rare. They are just not statistics. Doctor
Sid Watkins died when his body could no longer stand the "crazy" hours.
Stressed out teacher Pamela Relf killed herself. So did mental health nurse
Richard Pocock. All died because their jobs were just too much to bear.
Hazards 83, July-September 2003 [pdf]
Britain: Succession of work factors implicated in worker’s suicide
A worker who killed himself had been badly affected by a succession of safety issues at work, an inquest has heard, including an industrial fatality, demotion over a safety breach, a fear of losing his job and personal disputes in the workplace. Tissue factory worker Jeffrey Taylor, 55, was ruled to have taken his own life as a result of five contributing factors which were said to have been weighing heavily on his mind.
North West Evening Mail. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required). Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Suicide is a workplace issue
The UK is turning a blind eye to a major workplace killer, work-related suicide, the TUC has warned. The union body points to a series of reports this week highlighting how work factors can put large sections of the workforce at a greatly increased suicide risk, but there the problem is off the radar of the safety regulator.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required).
Sarah Waters. Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide.
Suicide by Occupation 2011-2015, Office for National Statistics, March 2017.
Dying from inequality, Samaritans, March 2017. Reducing the risk of suicide: A toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Crisis management in the event of a suicide: A postvention toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Construction must ‘radically reform’ to cut high suicide rates
The construction industry must take radical action to reduce the high number of suicides among its workforce, the union Unite has said. Its call came after a new analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that the risk of suicide among low skilled male labourers, particularly those working in construction, was three times higher than the male national average.
Unite news release. Construction News. Morning Star. The Guardian. More on work-related suicide. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: New work-related suicide figures a 'wake up call'
A new breakdown of suicide rates by occupation reveals those working in caring and teaching jobs are among those at a higher risk than the general public, unions have said. Greatly elevated rates were also observed in care workers and home carers, at nearly twice the expected rate in men and 70 per cent higher in women, and female primary teachers have a suicide risk that is 42 per cent above the average.
GMB news release. ATL news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
USA: ‘Diseases of distress’ linked to work
A 2015 study revealing a sharp spike in death rates among white working class Americans, bucking a long-term downward trend, has prompted research establishing that the ‘diseases of distress’ responsible – alcohol and drug-related diseases and suicides – are linked to work factors. This associations were established by a group of work environment doctoral students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Professor Laura Punnett explained in a posting in the public health blog The Pump Handle.
The Pump Handle. Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), volume 112, number 49, December 2015.
TUC drugs and alcohol webpages. More on work-related suicide, drug and alcohol use and job insecurity. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Poor management linked to worker suicides
Two separate inquests have revealed how poor management or witnessing horrific traumas in the workplace can leave workers suicidal.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Global: ‘Time to act’ on healthcare worker suicides
Burnout and suicides have reached ‘crisis’ proportions in healthcare workers, an editorial in the Lancet has warned. The 7 January commentary notes: “Now is not the time to become complacent or to let the health of medical workers slip down the political agenda, but to start 2017 by following a lead taken by the National Academy of Medicine: to ensure that the health and resilience of our medical workforce are the highest priorities in every country.”
Suicide among health-care workers: time to act. Editorial. The Lancet, 7 January 2017. NAM news release. More on work-related suicide. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
France: French workers have the right to switch off
French companies are now required to guarantee their employees a “right to disconnect” from technology. The new law came into force at the start of the year, and obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.
International Business Times. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Japan: Ad agency boss resigns over overwork suicide
Tadashi Ishii, the president and chief executive of the advertising agency Dentsu, is to resign in the wake of an employee suicide. A president in the 1950s urged its employees to work single-mindedly to complete tasks and satisfy clients, “even if it kills you” - and the company continued to print the exhortation in training materials until after Matsuri Takahashi’s death, when it had it removed.
New York Times. BBC News Online. Asahi Shimbun. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Japan: Ad agency suicide ruled work-related
The suicide of a female employee of a major Japanese advertising agency has been recognised as related to her work. A labour standards inspection office in Tokyo ruled that 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi killed herself as a result of the pressures she faced working at Dentsu Inc, one of 93 suicides or attempted suicides officially recognised as overwork-related –karojisatsu – by the Japanese authorities.
Asahi Shimbun. Japan Times. More on work-related suicide. Risks 772. 15 October 2016
Australia: Families plead for action on fly-in-fly-out deaths
Pressure on West Australia’s state government to take the mental health dangers to the army of fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) miners has escalated as family members of two workers who took their own lives presented a 4,800-signature petition demanding action. The union AMWU supported Sharon Johnson and Peter Miller when they went to the West Australia (WA) parliament to hand the petition to MP Graham Jacobs, who led the parliamentary inquiry into FIFO mental health that reported more than a year ago and that was prompted by a spate of suicides.
AMWU news release. Yahoo 7 News. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.
Britain: Samaritans warning on site worker suicides
Suicide is the overlooked construction worker killer, the Samaritans has warned. The mental health group told a seminar hosted by three building engineering bodies that more attention needs to be paid to depression and stress in the industry.
BESA news release. More on work-related suicides. Risks 765. 27 August 2016.
Canada: Toronto Star suicide prompts investigation
Top Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star will conduct an “independent facilitation process review” of the newsroom’s culture, after journalists’ union Unifor called for an independent investigation in the wake of reporter Raveena Aulakh’s suicide and the events surrounding her death. The union described the newsroom as a ‘poisonous workplace’ rife with harassment and bullying.
Canoe.com. Winnipeg Free Press. More on work-related suicides. Risks 760. 23 July 2016
Japan: Bus driver’s suicide was work-related
The Nagoya High Court in Japan has overturned a lower court decision and recognised the suicide of a Nagoya City bus driver as work-related, caused by heavy workloads and “power harassment”. The court ruled Yamada Akira, who was 37 at the time of his death, suffered from a nervous breakdown due to verbal abuse from a manager and lengthy police interviews around the same time regarding a minor accident over which the manager made him turn himself into the police.
Japan Press. More on work-related suicide. Risks 749. 7 May 2016
Britain: Firefighter killed himself after colleague died
A firefighter found hanged at his station had been left traumatised by the death of a colleague, an inquest has heard. The coroner indicated that the death of firefighter Stephen Hunt may have tipped father-of-two Lee Gaunt, 41, over the edge, and said he was “concerned” at the adequacy of occupational health support provided to firefighters.
Manchester Evening News. More on work-related suicide. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Australia: Six time more site worker suicides than fatalities
A national suicide prevention group has revealed construction workers are six times more likely to die by suicide than in workplace accidents. The industry-run MATES in Construction organisation also said suicide and suicidal behaviour cost the industry more than Aus$1.5 billion (£0.72bn) a year.
MATES in Construction. ABC News. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Another teacher suicide linked to Ofsted inspections
An award-winning headteacher hanged herself shortly after Ofsted downgraded her school, an inquest has been told. Carol Woodward, the long-serving head of Woodford primary school near Plymouth, suffered a swift decline in her mental health that coincided with an inspection by Ofsted as well as disruptive building work to expand the school.
Plymouth Herald. The Guardian. More on work-related suicides. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Suicides linked to fit-for-work test areas
Nearly 600 suicides in England could be associated with the government's "fit-for-work" tests, researchers have found. A team from Oxford and Liverpool universities looked at 2010-13 data and also that each additional 10,000 people subjected to a WCA was associated with an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of an additional 7,020 anti-depressants.
B Barr, D Taylor-Robinson, D Stuckler, R Loopstra, A Reeves, M Whitehead. ‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Online First, 16 November 2015. doi:10.1136/jech-2015-206209
The Guardian. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Fit for work ruling ‘caused suicide’
A man with severe depression hanged himself as a direct cause of being deemed “fit for work” by a medically unqualified government assessor, a coroner has ruled. The Disability News Service (DNS) unearthed the coroner’s report on the suicide of Michael O’Sullivan, 60, saying that it appeared to be the first case in which a coroner explicitly linked Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sanctions to a death.
Disability News Service report. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Australia: FIFO report a first step to halting suicides
Unions in Australia have said they will push hard to ensure sweeping reforms to reduce the rate of suicide and self-harm among ‘Fly-In, Fly-Out’ (FIFO) workers are implemented across isolated mining worksites in Western Australia. Improved rosters, better accommodation and reliable communications with home are among changes proposed in ‘The impact of FIFO Work Practices on Mental Health’, the final report of a bipartisan WA Parliamentary Committee.
AMWU news release. Manufacturing Matters. WA Today. The Conversation. The Australian. ABC News. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Australia: Pressure brings more site suicides than fatalities
The statistics on suicide in Australia’s construction industry are alarming, with around 50 people taking their own lives each year in Queensland alone, with another 150 workers in the state permanently disabled following a suicide attempt. Suicide outstrips death by accidents in the construction sector six to one, something attributed to the industry’s long hours, high stress and transient lifestyle.
The Courier. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Union links justice changes to suicides
Justice secretary Chris Grayling has “blood on his hands” after the suicides of two probation officers and a convict’s murder of an ex-partner, the general secretary of the probation union Napo has said. In a speech to the TUC conference, Ian Lawrence criticised the government for splitting the probation service in two.
Morning Star • More on work-related suicides • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Suicide linked to performance monitoring
The widow of a Stafford planning officer found hanged has told an inquest her husband was “very distressed” by performance monitoring at work. Nicky Atkins challenged claims that 45-year-old Phil Atkins was only subject to “informal” monitoring following concerns about the standard of his work at Stafford Borough Council’s planning department.
Staffordshire Newsletter • More on work-related suicide • Risks 663 • 19 July 2014.
Britain: Work concerns led to top scientist’s suicide
An eminent scientist took his own life after struggling with problems at work and a spiralling workload, an inquest has heard. Entomologist Dr Mark Jervis, 62, killed himself in his 6th floor office of the university’s School of Biosciences on 11 March.
Wales Online • The Telegraph • Cardiff University obituary • More on work-related suicide • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Excessive checks ‘drove teacher toward suicide’
A harrowing regime of extreme monitoring by school bosses helped drive a teacher to suicide, the NASUWT union conference heard last week. Medway delegate Andrew Green described how an “inventive, inspiring and creative teacher” he knew had taken her own life after being ground down by an invasive system of appraisals and check-ups.
Morning Star • Personnel Today • More on work-related suicides • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
France: More ‘work-related’ suicides at telecoms giant
Ten employees of the telecoms giant Orange France have killed themselves since the beginning of 2014, nearly as many as the whole of last year, an organisation that monitors work conditions at the firm has said. Labelling it a “serious alert”, the Observatory for Stress and Forced Mobility said the majority of these suicides – eight out of ten - were “explicitly related to work.”
Observatory for Stress and Forced Mobility news release (in French) • The Guardian • The Independent • More on work-related suicides • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Worker kills himself after stress claim
An inquest has heard that a top lawyer told a colleague he was going to kill himself the day before he threw himself under a Tube train. David Latham, 58, a world-renowned trademark lawyer at a large law company, was said to be 'inconsolable' with worry, and told a fellow partner that he was planning to kill himself after weeks of sleepless nights over the fate of a big case.
Fulham Chronicle • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Nurse traumatised by the job killed himself
A nurse was found hanged at his home after being traumatised by the job and a poorly handled and false accusation from a patient, an inquest heard. Coroner Ian Smith said Christopher Milnes, 50, “was told there was no foundation in what was alleged but he was still stressed,” adding: “He was also stressed from the very traumatic events he had been party to as a nurse.”
The Westmorland Gazette • More on work-related suicides • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: NUJ wants to see improvements after BBC suicide
The suicide death of an overworked and stressed journalist whose complaints of harassment were mishandled by the BBC show the broadcaster has got to seriously improve its work practices and procedures, the union NUJ has said. Russell Joslin, 50, killed himself after complaining of being sexually harassed by a female colleague; he was also extremely unhappy at work, feeling unable to cope with increased workloads and extra stress caused by low levels of staffing at his radio station.
NUJ statement • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: ‘Unreasonable pressure’ led to dentist’s suicide
A dentist killed himself after facing “unreasonable pressure” from health chiefs over standards of record keeping at his practice in Leeds, an inquest has heard. Dr Anand Kamath, 42, was in danger of being referred to the General Dental Council and feared for his career.
Yorkshire Evening Post • More on work-related suicide • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Work stress led to school head’s suicide
A stressed headteacher found hanged at her school in Worcestershire killed herself, a coroner has ruled. Helen Mann, whose body was discovered in a stairwell at Sytchampton First School near Stourport-on-Severn on 5 November 2012, was concerned that if an Ofsted inspection was imminent, the school would lose its 'oustanding' rating.
Kidderminster Shuttle • BBC News Online • Malvern Gazette • More on work-related suicides • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: BBC policy change after journalist’s suicide
The BBC has apologised and amended its policy on bullying and harassment after a radio journalist took his own life. The move by the broadcaster came after an inquiry found the BBC's handling of complaints from Russell Joslin was “not good enough.”
BBC News Online and The Granger report • Personnel Today • The Scotsman • More on work-related suicide • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Government policy is promoting suicides
The UK recession has led to a sharp rise in suicides, a new study has found. The researchers warn that the government’s austerity programme is not worth the human cost and efforts should instead centre on job creation.
David Stuckler and others. Suicides associated with the 2008-2010 recession in England: time-trend analysis, www.bmj.com, published online 14 July 2012 • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Japan: Teacher’s suicide was caused by work
A schoolteacher’s suicide was work-related, the Tokyo High Court has ruled. Kimura Yuriko started teaching in 2004 at an elementary school, but quickly admitted to problems coping with the behaviour of some pupils, raising the issue repeatedly with school management.
Japan Press • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Suicide 33 years after devastating work injury
A Cambridgeshire man shot himself 33 years after an injury at work left him in a wheelchair, an inquest has heard. Brian Longridge of St Neots left a note to his sister Margaret Corke saying he was “sorry” before shooting himself with a 12-bore shotgun in his bedroom on 3 April.
News and Crier • More on work-related suicides • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Japan: Work suicides, heart disease and depression up
Official compensation payouts for work-related suicides and depression in Japan are running at a record high, the health ministry has said. Figures for 2011 reveal the number of payouts approved for work-related mental illnesses climbed to an all-time high of 325 in the 2011 tax year.
Japan Times • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Global: Italian widows highlight worker suicides
The grieving wives and family members of more than 25 businessmen who have taken their own lives because of financial woes linked to Italy's economic crisis took to the streets of Bologna on 4 May. The organisers of the march, including the Italian Women's Union, believe there has been too little dialogue and not enough state support for families that have fallen into despair over unemployment, bankruptcies and loan defaults.
ILO news release and full report, World of Work Report 2012: Better Jobs for a Better Economy • TUC Touchstone blog • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Hazards occupational suicide webpages • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Job pressures led to suicide
A Hampshire firefighter who took his own life had been taken on too much work, an inquest has heard. Father-of-three Martin Coles was found hanged in a wooded area in Wickham on 9 August last year.
Portsmouth News • More on work-related suicide • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Austerity measures ‘may increase suicide rates’
The government’s austerity measures could lead to an increase in suicides, Unite has said. In response to an official consultation, ‘Preventing suicide in England: a cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives’, the union draws parallels with the Greek economic meltdown which led to a reported 40 per cent rise in suicides in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2010.
Unite news release • More on work-related suicide • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
Japan: Overwork suicide payout is upheld
Japan’s Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by two companies against a work-related suicide compensation award. A court order now requires camera and optical products giant Nikon Corp and a Nagoya-based temp agency to pay compensation of over £0.5m for the 1999 death of 23-year-old temporary worker Yuji Uendan, who killed himself because of overwork-induced depression.
Japan Times • Japan and Tokyo News • More on work-related suicide • Risks 526 • 8 October 2011
Australia: Work suicide ‘epidemic’ spurs union action
An ‘epidemic’ of work-related suicide affecting construction workers in Australia has prompted a union campaign to extend support to members under strain. CFMEU’s pilot ‘Mates in Construction’ suicide prevention programme trains mentors to pick up warning signs in work colleagues and offer an understanding ear and professional help.
CFMEU news release • ACTU news release • Risks 522 • 10 September 2011
Britain: Stress and workload linked to suicide death
A council lawyer hanged himself because he was “unable to cope” with his increasing workload and implementing a contentious cuts programme, an inquest has heard. David White, who had worked for the authority for more than 20 years, was found dead in Butley Woods, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, on 4 April.
BBC News Online • Daily Telegraph • The Guardian • Daily Mirror • Hazards work-related suicide webpages • Risks 521 • 3 September 2011
Europe: Suicide rates 'linked' to financial crisis
The financial crisis “almost certainly” led to an increase in suicides, health experts have concluded. An analysis by US and UK researchers found a rise in suicides was recorded among working age people from 2007 to 2009 in nine of the 10 European nations studied.
David Stuckler and others. Effects of the 2008 recession on health: a first look at European data, The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9786, Pages 124 - 125, 9 July 2011. BBC News Online • Risks 514 • 16 July 2011
Korea: Samsung blocks suicide investigation
Multinational microelectronics giant Samsung is blocking an investigation into a workplace suicide, campaigners have charged. Last week, the mother, older sister, and aunt of Kim Ju-hyeon positioned themselves in front of the head office of Samsung Electronics in Seoul, holding a funeral portrait and wailing.
Stop Samsung campaign • The Hankyoreh • Risks 497 • 12 March 2011
Japan: Mazda told to pay up for worker suicide
A Japanese court has ordered car manufacturer Mazda to pay 63 million yen (£470,000) in damages to the parents of an employee who was ruled to have taken his own life because of overwork-related depression. The latest damages plus the other payments give the parents the entire 110 million yen (£825,000) they demanded in their lawsuit filed against Mazda in 2008.
Today online • More on work-related suicide • Risks 496 • 5 March 2011
France: Postal worker suicide ‘71st in a year’
The suicide of a French postal worker has prompted fears about working conditions in the country’s Post Office. A 56-year-old worker killed himself on 8 January in Bouches-du-Rhône, in southeast France, in what unions says is the fifth suicide in the region in a year and the 71st nationwide.
RFI.fr • Risks 490 • 22 January 2011
Britain: Job loss digger driver killed himself
A digger driver from Hull hanged himself after losing his job, an inquest has heard.
Patrick McLaughlin, 52, been made redundant when the company he was working for went into liquidation in August last year.
Hull Daily Mail • TUC news release • Risks 461 • 19 June 2010
Global: Unions call for action on Foxconn suicides
A global union confederation has said it is “gravely concerned” at the tragic suicides at Foxconn Technology Group in Shenzhen, China. ITUC says the Taiwanese Foxconn group is at the heart of the ‘Made in China’ export model.
ITUC news release • Good Electronics and makeITfair joint statement • Sign up to the Labourstart appeal in support of the Foxconn workers • Risks 459 • 5 June 2010
China: Electronics giant faces suicide controversy
Foxconn Technology, the giant contractor that manufacturers the iPhone and other brand name consumer electronics, has defended its employment standards after the suicide death of an eighth worker.
CBC News • Cult of Mac • Xinhua.net • Risks 457 • 22 May 2010
Australia: Suicidal worker told to ‘toughen up’
Fifteen years as a single-crew ambulance officer left Rick Wallace with post-traumatic stress disorder and a serious back injury - he would sometimes have to carry patients by piggyback to a stretcher because he was on his own. A manager told him to “cowboy up” when he attempted suicide in September 2006, and he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sydney Morning Herald • Police Post Trauma Support Group • Risks 445 • 8 May 2010
China: Foxconn ‘suicide express’ production exposed
A spate of suicides among young workers has highlighted oppressive management methods at the global electronics giant Foxconn, local unions say. Wang Tongxin, vice-chair of the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions said Foxconn had “developed a kind of quasi-military management system” combined with tight production schedules.
China Daily • China Labour Bulletin • More on occupational suicides • Risks 452 • 17 April 2010
France: Talks after suicides shock Disneyland
Union representatives and managers have been in talks over the working environment at Disneyland Paris after three workers killed themselves in the last eight weeks. The most recent suicide was that of a Eurodisney chef, who was found hanged at his home over a week ago.
Sky News • The Independent • The Sunday Times • More on occupational suicides • Risks 451 • 10 April 2010
Britain: Recession leads to depression
The number of people suffering stress, anxiety and depression because of redundancies, job insecurity and pay cuts owing to the recession is soaring, a study has found. Worries about the effects of the downturn have produced a sharp rise in people experiencing symptoms of common mental health conditions, according to the report, by academics from Roehampton University and the children’s charity Elizabeth Finn Care.
Elizabeth Finn Care news release • The Guardian • GMTV • Daily Express • Risks 451 • 10 April 2010
Britain: Teaching stresses leave staff ‘suicidal’
The pressures piled on teachers are so severe some staff have considered suicide, research for the union NASUWT has found. Its survey found a lack of support from schools and their management teams was leading to stress, burnout and depression. Politics.co.uk • . Hazards occupational suicide webpages • Risks 451 • 10 April 2010
France: Unions criticise suicide response plan
Unions have said plans by France Telecom to address the “social crisis” that has made the company name synonymous with workplace suicides do not go far enough. Under the plan to remedy organisational ills that have seen the French president intervene, France Telecom will recruit 3,500 people in 2010 in order to reduce workloads and stress and job transfers will be voluntary and not mandatory, a departure from the previous policy.
UNI news report • Risks 450 • 3 April 2010
Britain: Unionised workers are happier workers
Unions can help prevent staff feeling stressed and de-motivated by new working practices and reduce the number of staff quitting their jobs, according to a new report from the TUC. The publication comes in the wake of recent international scandals linking the recession, job insecurity and company restructuring to a deterioriation in staff health and well-being and to an increased suicide risk.
TUC news release • The road to recovery, Touchstone Pamphlet, TUC, March 2010 [pdf] • Risks 448 • 20 March 2010
France: ‘Radical change’ after telecom suicides
France Télécom’s new management must move quickly “to take charge and encourage radical change” if it is to put an end to a suicide crisis, according to a study commissioned by the company. The team of Stéphane Richard, who formally succeeded Didier Lombard as chief executive on 1 March, has a “few weeks” to install a new style of leadership to address the crisis, according to an interim report from Technologia, a human resources consulting firm.
Telecom TV • New York Times • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Australia: Tragedies linked to compensation worries
Injured workers in South Australia are going without food and medication and some have been driven to suicide because they cannot afford basic necessities, it has been claimed. SA Unions, the umbrella organisation for unions in the state, is campaigning to “restore fairness” in the system, which is says is currently “the costliest, least fair and most poorly managed workers compensation scheme in the nation.”
Ann Bressington news release • SA Unions news release • The WorkCover Suicide video can be viewed on the Todaytonight website • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: Head’s suicide 'linked' to school inspection
The death of an “outstanding” headteacher was “inextricably linked” to the outcome of a school inspection, a sheriff has concluded. Irene Hogg's body was discovered at a secluded spot near Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders in March 2008, days after she received critical feedback from the visit.
The Independent • The Guardian • Border Telegraph • The Herald.
Hazards work-related suicides news and resources • Risks 440 • 23 January 2010
Finland: Union says suicides are only the start
This autumn four employees of the Rautaruukki steel mill in Raahe, Finland, took their own lives. But they represent only the tip of the iceberg, according to union shop steward Mika Vuoti and safety representative Alpo Pirneskoski.
Trade Union News from Finland • Risks 436 • 12 December 2009
France: More company concessions on suicides
France Télécom is preparing to set aside €1 billion (£90m) as part of a plan to end a spate of suicides amongst staff by offering older workers the chance to go part-time. The telecommunications giant, which has already suspended restructuring, said it may enable staff aged over 57 to work part time under a stress reduction programme.
The Times • Risks 431 • 7 November 2009
Britain: Job stress led to suicide
The pressure of an unwanted promotion led to a young professional's suicide, an inquest has heard. On his 29th birthday, 30 May this year, Benjamin Cheung drove his BMW to a secluded train station car park and stabbed himself three times with a kitchen knife.
Preston Citizen • Risks 430 • 31 October 2009
France: Firm moves to end work suicides
After union protests over 24 workers killing themselves in 18 months, France Télécom boss Didier Lombard says he wants a “new social contract” with trade unions. Suicide notes have blamed high levels of work stress on workers’ decisions to end their lives and Lombard - whose number two, Louis-Pierre Wenes, resigned this week after intense criticism of the company’s handling of the crisis - has promised to ease up on workforce mobility, which has been a bone of contention.
France Télécom statement and news release • Radio France • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 427 • 10 October 2009
France: Hotline plan for suicidal telecoms staff
France Telecom has promised to set up a free hotline for workers suffering from stress after the 23rd suicide by one of its employees in 18 months. The move followed a crisis meeting between the French labour minister, Xavier Darcos, and France Telecom's chief executive, Didier Lombard.
BBC News Online • Connected Research • Hazards suicide webpages • Risks 424 • 19 September 2009
Global: Work pressures lead to suicide problem
Reports from Ireland, France, the USA and the UK have identified a sharp rise in suicide risks related to work. These follow 'Crying shame', a report last year from Hazards magazine, that warned work factors could account for up to 250 suicide deaths in the UK each year.
Irish Examiner • Truthout translation of L'Humanité article • US Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and Occupational suicides: Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, BLS, USA, August 2009 [pdf]. Hazards work-related suicide webpages • Risks 423 • 12 September 2009
USA: Big leap in suicides at work
The recession may be driving more people to take their lives at work, new statistics from the US suggest. The number of people who killed themselves at work in the US rose 28 per cent to an all-time high last year.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries • Business Insurance • The Guardian • Hazards work-related suicide webpages • Risks 421 • 29 August 2009
Europe: Warning on recession related death risk
The stress triggered by job losses could see suicides rise across Europe if governments fail to take preventive action, according to a new study. Researchers concluded that soaring stress brought on by job losses could prompt a 2.4 per cent rise in suicide rates in people under 64 years of age, a 2.7 per cent rise in heart attack deaths in men between 30 and 44 years, and a 2.4 per cent rise in homicides rates.
LSHTM news release. David Stuckler and others. The public health effect of economic crises and alternative policy responses in Europe: an empirical analysis, The Lancet, 8 July 2009 • Science Daily • The Guardian • Sky News • BBC News Online • Risks 414 • 11 July 2009
Australia: Bullying blamed for apprentice suicide
The suicide of a teenage apprentice, tormented while working for a state government contractor in New South Wales, Australia, has highlighted the problem of workplace bullying. Alec Meikle, 16, was an apprentice with rail contractor Downer Edi, where his workmates threatened to rape him and set him on fire.
Live News • More on work-related suicide • Risks 412 • 4 July 2009
Japan: Record numbers worked to death
Record numbers of Japanese workers were worked to death last year, according to official compensation figures. A total of 269 cases qualified for state compensation last year, one up on the preceding year and a record high for the third straight year.
Japan Today • Risks 410 • 13 June 2009
Britain: Job problems drove school head to suicide
A headmaster hanged himself after discovering that the parents of a pupil were bringing a tribunal complaint about his school, an inquest has heard. Neil Sears, 52, who was found hanging from a heating pipe in the boiler room at Meadowgate School, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, on 20 January this year left a note on a fax machine, which read: “I just give up, sorry.”
The Telegraph • Wisbech Standard • Norfolk Eastern Daily Press • Peterborough Today • Hazards occupational suicide webpages • Risks 410 • 13 June 2009
Britain: Schools pressure linked to mental illness
Schools are blighted by stress-induced mental illness and many teachers face burn-out before they retire, according to teaching union NUT. It says teachers in England and Wales have an almost 40 per cent greater rate of suicide than the general population.
The Guardian • Crying shame, Hazards 101, 2008 • Risks 402 • 18 April 2009
Global: Job insecurity linked to suicides
Researchers in France have identified a clear correlation between job insecurity and suicidal tendencies. American psychologists have coined the phrase “econocide” to describe a wave of suicides they say are linked to the current global economic crisis, and the phenomenon has also been recognised in the UK, where Edinburgh University’s Professor Stephen Platt said an upturn in suicides “is not only because more people become unemployed and, as a result, more psychologically vulnerable, but also because those in employment feel threatened too.”
HESA news report • BBC News Online • More on work-related suicide risks • Risks 399 • 28 March 2009
USA: Army recruiters describe job nightmare
The suicides of four US Army recruiters from a single battalion has focused lawmakers and veterans advocates on the enormous stress endured by soldiers tasked with refilling the ranks of the country’s all-volunteer military. In response to the deaths, the Army suspended all recruiting nationwide last week to focus on leadership training, suicide prevention and the health of its 8,900 recruiters.
Houston Chronicle • Hazards website. www.hazards.org/suicide • Risks 394 • 21 February 2009