Saturday 24 February 2018

Half of recent male suicides were construction workers

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

ALMOST half of men who died by suicide in recent years had been working in the construction industry, a study found.

Calls have been made for greater awareness in the workplace after academics also showed a quarter of women who took their lives had been employed in the healthcare sector.

The study examined 275 suicides and 32 open verdicts recorded by coroners across Cork city and county between September 2008 and June 2012.

It found 80% were men, 57% were single men, and almost half (48.6%) had worked in the construction/production industry.

Specific risk factors associated with suicide among men under 40 were unemployment (39.5%), drug abuse (29.4%) and history of non-fatal self-harm (31.3%).

Risk factors more strongly associated with suicide among men aged over 40 included history of alcohol abuse (76.5%), physical illness (38.3%) and diagnosis of depression (31.5%).

Of the 61 women, the majority had been or were married/cohabiting, 26.5% worked in healthcare and they were more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Professor Ella Arensman, of the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork, called for more awareness of risk factors associated with suicide, mental health problems, and openness in relation to help-seeking behaviour among professionals in health care settings.

The study also found more women than men had drugs, often prescribed, in their system when they died - 53% compared with 30% - while more men had drunk alcohol beforehand, 41.9% compared with 17.5%.

For men and women a history of self-harm was known in 132 cases, a psychiatric disgnosis in 123, 121 had had inpatient psychiatric treatment, 165 suffered a physical illness, and the presence of alcohol and/or drugs was known in 173.

A third of suicides happened on a Saturday and Monday, highlighting the increased risks after drinking alcohol.

Gerry Raleigh, director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention, said more work needs to be done to break the trend between alcohol abuse and suicide.

"Alcohol is putting people in to dark places and reinforcing negativity for people and helplessness," he added.

Elsewhere it showed a third of men and women who took their lives were unemployed at the time, with four out of ten in work, 11% retired, 7% students, 5% had a long term disability and 3% were homemakers.

Overall, four out of ten had worked in construction/production, followed by agriculture (13.2%), sales/business (8.9%), students (8.2%), healthcare (6.%), the education (3.9%).

* For anyone affected by this report, the Samaritans can be contacted on 1850 609090

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