Women are three times more likely to commit suicide or die following a workplace accident, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
Researchers from Boston University found that women who suffered workplace injuries that caused them to miss at least one week of work were 92 percent more likely to commit suicide and 193 percent more likely to overdose compared to other female workers.
By contrast, their male counterparts were 72 percent more likely to die by suicide and 29 more likely to abuse drugs.
Getting injured on the job can be painful, stressful and lead to long periods of time off work. However, the tendency to focus on the physical effects of these injuries may mask the severity of psychological ones — and undiagnosed depression or substance abuse can lead to self-harm.
For this reason, it’s important for all workers to know the warning signs that someone is thinking about suicide. It’s also critical for anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help immediately.
Job Injuries Are Stressful Life Events
Women and men share many of the same risk factors for suicide. There’s never a single cause. But according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, stressful life events are often triggered. Workplace injuries certainly fit in that category.
When you’re involved in a workplace accident, your entire wellbeing is put in jeopardy. There are the physical injuries to contend with, but also the financial concerns that come if you face a long recovery period or cannot return to work.
Workers’ compensation benefits can help cover medical expenses and partial wage replacement after a job injury. But it’s not always simple to obtain those benefits and not every South Carolina employee can claim them. Talking to an experienced worker’s compensation attorney can help you determine your rights if you’ve been hurt.
Recognizing The Warning Signs Of Suicide
People who are contemplating suicide communicate their feelings differently. Some talk, some withdraw and some even seem to express a sense of peacefulness that can be mistaken for “doing better.”
- Statements of despair, such as “I can’t cope” or “I’m a burden.”
- Behavioral changes (e.g., anxiety, tearfulness, or engaging in risky behaviors, drinking too much, etc.)
- Change from normal appearance (e.g., poor hygiene, sudden weight loss, etc.)
How You Can Help A Co-Worker
If believe that a co-worker is having suicidal thoughts, you can not know what to do. You may be hesitant about getting involved or doubt whether they are a danger to themselves. But you can and should do something.
The fact is that you’re around your co-worker every day. You may be uniquely situated to get a sense of his or her mental state, maybe even more so than his or her family.
Tips for what you can do:
- Ask if they’re OK. Don’t be afraid to be direct about it. If their answer worries you, urge them to seek help right away. Offer to take them to a therapist or help determine what mental health benefits are available through work.
- Visit co-workers whose injuries keep them from working. Being alone can be depressing after a workplace injury. Visit as often as possible to keep their spirits up.
- Advise at-risk workers to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone is available to talk 24/7.
If you’re struggling after a workplace accident, don’t wait to receive the emotional help that you need. Reach out to a counselor, friend, family member or therapist to help you cope during this stressful time.