Workplace Suicides Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2013-2020

Muna Hassan | 2023

Advisor: Ali Rowhani-Rahbar

Research Area(s): COVID-19, Environmental & Occupational Health, Psychiatric Epidemiology

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This study examines the occurrence of workplace suicides and their contextual factors before and during the COVID-19 pandemic using data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The study analyzes demographic, geographical, occupation, and circumstantial factors in workplace suicides and explores changes in these factors during the pandemic. The data spans from 2013 to 2020, focusing on suicides in which would was categorized as a “Major Factor,” “Minor Factor,” or “Not Documented Factor.” Descriptive analyses and statistical tests were conducted to identify patterns and associations. Of the 200,490 suicides analyzed, 9.08% were identified as work-related to some extent.The proportion of suicides where work was identified as a major contributor remained consistent at 3.02% before and during COVID-19. Across all years of the study—higher proportions of suicides where work was a major contributor were observed among males, individuals aged 45-54, married or separated individuals, those with a college education or higher, as well as Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic individuals. Moreover, specific occupations such as management, legal, protective services, healthcare practitioners, and military showed a significant prevalence of major work-related suicides compared to other occupations. The most common death mechanisms among suicides where work was a significant contributing factor were firearms, hanging, strangulation, suffocation, and poisoning. Financial problems, eviction or loss of home, depressed mood, and relationship problems emerged as prevailing circumstances associated with major workplace suicides. These findings highlight the potential impact of COVID-19 on work-related suicides and emphasize the significance of considering demographic factors and circumstances in comprehending and addressing these incidents.