In many ways good and bad, we are what we do for a living. According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what we do for a living has a direct correlation with our likelihood of death by suicide. Manual laborers who work in isolation and face unsteady employment have the highest suicide rate in the United States, according to the CDC, which just released the results of its 2012 study this past week. Farmers, lumberjacks, and fishermen topped this first-of-its kind list of suicide by occupation, followed closely by carpenters, miners, electricians, and people who work in construction. In contrast, educators, childcare workers, and those in the food-service industry were found to have the lowest suicide rates. Dentists, doctors, and other health-care professionals were found to have an 80% lower suicide rate than the occupations at the top of the list. While suicide rates are statistically higher among men than among women, another recent report from the CDC showed that the suicide rate itself is rising in the United States, with women experiencing the most dramatic increases. Women are also three times more likely than men to attempt suicide. But who are these women? According to the new study, female suicide rates are the highest among police, firefighters, and corrections officers, followed closely by women in the legal profession.
Though this report is arguably the largest U.S. study to compare suicide rates among occupations, it is important to note that it is not entirely comprehensive. The study examined data from only 17 states, meaning researchers looked at only approximately 12,300 of the more than 40,000 deaths by suicide that were reported across the country that year. This limited data allowed the researchers to calculate suicide rates for broad categories, but not specific jobs. Specific occupations and gender identities aside, it makes the need for a national focus on preventing suicide paramount.