Let’s face it; any job is stressful. Money makes the world go ’round, and working to earn enough money to survive, or maintain a lifestyle, however luxurious or not, is a source of daily struggle for everyone. While money concerns are not the sole source of stress in one’s profession, they are a large one, but there are other factors that make a job stressful; long hours, high client demand, and the emotional trauma of the job. While everyone deals with stress on the job, even in high amounts, on a daily basis many people are able to deal with and overcome this stress one way or another. There are some professions with higher stress levels than others, however, and sadly, there are workers within those professions that do not deal with the stress and demands of their job as successfully as others. These are the ten professions with the highest suicide rates in America.
Perhaps a surprise on this list, but the work of a scientist can be quite stressful. The push to discover and innovate as well as to constantly publish new findings creates a lot of stress in a field where the competition is rather fierce, and sometimes, even cut-throat. Suicide rates amongst scientists are surprising, with scientists having a likelihood of committing suicide at a rate of 1.28 higher than the general population. For every 45 male suicides in the field, there are an estimated five female suicides per year, with one prominent example of a female chemist, (chemists being the scientists most likely to take their own lives), committing suicide by swallowing cyanide upon refusal of a research grant.
Perhaps another surprising entry on this list, pharmacists are not immune to the acute stress their job heaps upon them. Generally, a pharmacist is responsible for running their own business, and is responsible for patient welfare by prescribing them their medications. Furthermore, when some patients cannot afford to pay for their medications, or insurance will not cover said medications, the pharmacist often takes the brunt of a patient’s ire. Moreover, perhaps most difficultly, a pharmacist is constantly involved in the high-pressure world of the big pharmaceutical companies, sometimes treated as a sales rep as opposed to a health care professional. Pharmacists also have a substance abuse rate of nearly 20% higher than average, all of which contribute to the rate of suicide amongst pharmacists to be 1.29 higher than average.
8. Farm Workers
One of the lowest paying jobs in America, with a salary of less than $20,000 annually; working in agriculture can be extremely stressful. Not only is the work hard labour, it is also dangerous, working with heavy machinery. There were 216 farm accident fatalities in 2012 alone, prompting Forbes magazine to rank farming as one of the nation’s deadliest jobs. Beyond the stress of farming and the workplace hazards, a farmer is also at the mercy of nature, and nature can be cruel. When the earth doesn’t cooperate, than a farmer’s livelihood can be completely in jeopardy, resulting in a suicide rate that is 1.32 higher than average.
There may be a scientific explanation for the higher than average suicide rates amongst electricians, a rate that is 1.36 higher than average. While being an electrician can be a lucrative profession, it can also be difficult when the economy is bad and work is scarce. Beyond the stressful economic factors that may affect electricians, there have been recent studies that have posited that an electrician’s long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields could ultimately affect brain chemistry. The electromagnetic fields may affect melatonin production in the brain, which can potentially lead to depression, potentially culminating in suicide.
6. Real Estate Agents
The world of real estate can be a high risk, high reward profession, with all of the accompanying stress expected of a career that can make you millions of dollars, or leave you broke. Especially since the housing crisis in 2008 when housing prices plummeted, the world of real estate has become extremely unpredictable. The lack of stability in real estate, particularly not knowing when the next paycheck may arrive if the housing market is weak, may very well be one of the main reasons why real estate agents commit suicide at a rate of 1.38 higher than the average person. Not only is suicide a risk as a real estate agent, but over one-third of all job-related deaths among real estate agents are murders.
5. Police Officers
Thus far, police officers may be the least surprising entry on this list. The amount of stress, both physical and emotional, that a police officer endures during the course of their career can sometimes create emotional duress. Studies have suggested that police officers are more than twice as likely to show signs of depression during their careers than those in other professions, and are four times more likely to get less than 6 hours of a sleep a night, all the while dealing with violence and crime on a daily basis. While suicide amongst police officers is more common than other professions in America, it is a problem that plagues women and African-American men more often than white men, with suicide rates amongst women 2.03 higher and amongst African-American men 2.55 times higher than average.
According to studies, before even graduating from law school, a reported 40% of law students already suffer from depression. Once practicing, lawyers are nearly four times more likely to suffer from depression than the average American. The extremely stressful environment a career in law demands, with long hours, poor public opinion and difficult cases and clients, are considered the biggest reasons why lawyers commit suicide at a rate of 1.33 times higher than the national average. Suicide among lawyers has become such a concern that many states have implemented mental health programs that are required for their lawyers.
3. Financial Workers
Another profession that may not come as a surprise, as the correlation between financial workers and suicide has been witnessed by the public since the Great Depression when stock brokers who had been bankrupted leapt from buildings, as the economy goes, so does the average rate of suicide amongst workers in the financial sector. The suicide rate amongst financial workers in America is 1.51 times higher than average, and it is not entirely surprising given the economic landscape of the country post-2008. In the first three months of 2014 alone, there were already 11 reported suicides amongst those in finance.
Not many, if anyone, enjoys going to the dentist. Though this may not actively contribute to the likelihood of a dentist committing suicide at a rate of 1.67 times higher than the American average, it may compound the extremely high stress nature of the job and amongst all professions, dentistry is considered one of the most stressful. Being a dentist can be a lucrative, rewarding profession, but it also brings with it long hours, reluctant, if not downright difficult patients, and no guarantee of success or stability. Because of this, studies suggest that dentists are more likely to suffer from mental disorders, but are also more reluctant to seek treatment for disorders, perhaps explaining the higher than average suicide rate.
Doctors are 1.87 times more likely to commit suicide than the average American. While suicide accounts for roughly 2% of all deaths amongst the general population in the United States, 4% of all physician deaths are by suicide. The high stress nature of the job, like all jobs on this list, is the number one factor in the suicide rate amongst doctors. Doctors also have extra difficulty; when a doctor suffers from depression or another mental disorder, they are reluctant to seek treatment, potentially fearing for their practice if word of their own need for professional help were to be revealed. There have also been theories that suggest that because doctors are trained in medicine, they simply are more adept at actually committing suicide, knowing how to achieve their desired result, and knowing what drugs to administer to do so. While this theory hasn’t been proven, it may also be a factor that helps explain the high rate of suicide amongst doctors.