WASHINGTON — Most people have experienced a case of the scary Sundays due to anxiety over an impending work week, but people working in the arts, entertainment, sports and media are among those more likely to die by suicide, and those industries should consider improving workplace mental health support, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recently released a report that showed suicide rates increased 33 percent from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14.0 per 100,000 last year.
The report also broke down suicide rates by sex and occupation from 2000 to 2016.
Men in construction had the highest rate of suicide, with a ratio of 53.2 per 100,000 of those workers committing suicide, followed by men in the arts, entertainment, sports and media (a 39.7 ratio ).
“The construction industry is male-dominated, and men have rates of suicide about 3.5 times that of women,” CDC behavioral scientist Deborah Stone said.
But 38-year-old Alexander Garcia, who works at Transwall, a construction company in Washington, was surprised by the finding because he feels connected to a community.
“We have meetings every Monday where I can talk to my superiors and give my feedback. We are a happy team,” he said.
Among women, those in the arts, entertainment, sports and media had the highest rate with 15.6 per 100,000 in those industries dying by suicide followed by protective services (a 12.2 ratio) and health care support (a 11 ratio).
Dr. Maria Oquendo, former president of the American Psychiatric Association and current professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said the results were surprising because typically individuals in the police force or physicians are at a higher risk.
“Many people who work in the arts work by themselves. This lack of social support and intervention can lead to more women in those fields who die by suicide,” said Oquendo.
The CDC report stated that those who work in education are the least likely of both genders to end their lives. Oquendo said this is because individuals who belong to a supportive community are significantly less likely to die by suicide.
“Being a member of a caring community is important because it’s likely someone will notice someone else who is struggling,” she said.
Suicide rates increase with age as those above the age of 55 are more likely to end their own life, according to Oquendo. She also said whites were more likely to die by suicide than blacks or Hispanics, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ were at a higher risk as well.
It’s important to talk to someone if they have become more isolated and may be at risk, especially if the person has family members who have died by suicide because it is hereditary, according to Oquendo.
“The best thing to do it is to ask someone about it as it’s a big relief to share it with someone else. Be direct, you will not put ideas in their head,” Oquendo said.
The CDC report also offered advice to employers: “Because many adults spend a substantial amount of their time at work, the workplace is an important but underutilized location for suicide prevention. Workplaces could potentially benefit from suicide prevention activities.”
Stone said workplaces could create policies and a culture that foster open communication.
“Such policies and cultural values encourage leadership from the top down and may promote asking for help, skill building and helping services such as mental health, substance abuse treatment and financial counseling,” Stone said.