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Previous research has shown that those employed in certain occupations, such as doctors and farmers, have an elevated risk of suicide, yet little research has sought to synthesise these findings across working-age populations.
To summarise published research in this area through systematic review and meta-analysis.
Random effects meta-analyses were used to calculate a pooled risk of suicide across occupational skill-level groups.
Thirty-four studies were included in the meta-analysis. Elementary professions (e.g. labourers and cleaners) were at elevated risk compared with the working-age population (rate ratio (RR) = 1.84, 95% CI 1.46–2.33), followed by machine operators and deck crew (RR = 1.78, 95% CI 1.22–2.60) and agricultural workers (RR = 1.64, 95% CI 1.19–2.28). Results suggested a stepwise gradient in risk, with the lowest skilled occupations being at greater risk of suicide than the highest skill-level group.
This is the first comprehensive meta-analytical review of suicide and occupation. There is a need for future studies to investigate explanations for the observed skill-level differences, particularly in people employed in lower skill-level groups.
Declaration on interest
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