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Architect, Builder Suicide Rates High

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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According to a new report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers and architects appear in the top five on an unfortunate list: occupations with the highest suicide rates.

The study, published July 1 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, ranks “construction and extraction” as the occupation second most prone to suicide; “architecture and engineering” ranks fifth. The rate for construction workers is 53.3 for every 100,000 people; for architecture, it’s 32.2 per 100,000.

Architects studying blueprints
© / Richard Gerstner

According to a new report issued by the CDC, the suicide rate for architects and engineers is 32.2 for every 100,000 people.

“Farming, fishing and forestry” ranks first in the study, with a suicide rate of 84.5 for every 100,000; “installation, maintenance and repair” and “production” round out the top five lines of work on the list.

The CDC says numbers on suicide rate have been broken down by sex and occupation classification before, but not in recent years, so this data could be important in developing new, targeted suicide-prevention programs.

Searching for Reasons

In addition to hard data, the authors of the report attempt to give some indication as to why workers in particular occupations might be more predisposed to suicide than others. “Construction workers might be at a higher risk because of financial and interpersonal concerns related to lack of steady employment, and fragmented community or isolation,” the report states.

Suicide rate chart
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The report ranks “construction and extraction” as the occupation second most prone to suicide; “architecture and engineering” ranks fifth.

Some experts have suggested that a “tough-guy culture” in the construction industry discourages seeking help, and that, along with a higher-than-average rate of drug use, could also contribute to the problem in that sector.

No conjecture is given in the report regarding the abnormally high suicide rate among engineers and architects.

Age and Sex Breakdowns

Suicide rates overall, and in most individual occupations, peaked in the 45-54 age group, according to the report. Overall, 22.7 percent of suicide victims were in age 45-54; in the construction industry, the share was closer to 25 percent.

Of those in the architecture/engineering classification, 65 and older was the age group most likely to commit suicide; 34 percent in that class were in the eldest age group.

In both construction and architecture/engineering, far more men than women were reported as suicide victims. While OSHA has said that about 9 percent of construction workers in the U.S. are women, in the study, only 18 female construction workers were reported as suicide victims—just over 1 percent of all victims in the industry.

The study was performed using census data pertaining to suicide victims recorded in 17 states during the year 2012. 


Tagged categories: Architects; Asia Pacific; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Research

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