Suicide has a dramatic impact on the workplace in both human and financial terms, whether it is an employee, family member or friend. The statistics are staggering.
- Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 32,000 killing themselves each year. Every 16 minutes an American takes his or her own life.1
- For every 1 victim of homicide in the United States, there are 2 persons who take their own lives. There are now 3 times as many deaths due to suicide as to HIV/AIDS.2
- In 2006, there were 594,000 emergency room visits for self-inflicted injury.3
- Of those who die by suicide, more than 90 percent have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder.4
- In any given 1-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 20.9 million American adults, suffer from a depressive illness.5
- For each suicide prevented, the United States could save an average of $1,182,559 in medical expenses ($3,875) and lost productivity ($1,178,684).6
- Nearly 85 percent of all suicides occur among the nation’s workforce, Americans ages 25-65. About 24,000 deaths were reported in 2006 for this age group.7
- The annual cost of workforce-related suicides has been calculated to be approximately $13 billion in 2005 dollars.8
- The impact of suicide on a corporate family consisting of 100,000 employees, with an average of 4 blood relatives per employee, includes:
- The loss of one employee or family member to suicide every 7 days.
- Three suicide attempts every day since there are about 25 nonfatal suicide attempts for every reported suicide. Some of these attempts result in a significant medical injury and disability, which directly impacts health care costs, particularly for self-insured companies.
For organizations with a global workforce, it also is important to understand that incidents of suicide vary among different countries and cultures around the world. According to the World Health Organization, suicide rates worldwide have risen 60 percent over the past half century.10 The size of the population, age and sex distribution, sociocultural ethos, extent of sociotechnological development, availability of methods for suicide and intervention efforts account for differences in suicide rates among countries.
Suicide prevention programs have a positive impact
The U.S. Air Force reduced its suicide rate by one-third after developing and implementing its community-based suicide prevention program. The Air Force program is replicable in existing communities and corporations. The result can be a demonstrable reduction in the emotional, physical and financial toll of depression and suicide; lost productivity and absenteeism; and costs of operations and medical benefits.
These efforts also can prevent some homicides in both the workplace and the home; according to the U.S. Air Force data, successful suicide prevention programs also reduce other kinds of violence. Sometimes, instances of workplace violence result in the perpetrator ending his own life. Keep in mind too that employees who see no future for their own life are at increased risk for perpetrating workplace violence. These acts of violence often are premeditated, so they can be prevented if the warning signs are acted upon and there is intervention.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe
3National Health Statistics Reports
4The National Institute of Mental Health 2009
5The National Institute of Mental Health
6Research America, www.researchamerica.org/uploads/factsheet21suicide.pdf
7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe
8Research America, www.researchamerica.org/uploads/factsheet21suicide.pdf
9Paul Quinnett, PhD, Director, the QPR Institute, Spokane, Wash.
10"Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Work," World Health Organization, 2006, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241594381_eng.pdf