Suicide by occupational skill level in the Australian construction industry: data from 2001 to 2010

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Abstract

Objective:

This study examines variation in suicide deaths by occupational skill level within the construction industry and changes in the rate of suicide over time.

Methods:

Suicide deaths were extracted from a national coronial database and occupations were coded. Adjusted suicide rates over the period 2001 to 2010 were calculated and incidence-rate ratios (IRRs) used to compare the overall burden of suicide in the lowest skilled group (machine operators and labourers) against skilled tradespersons in the construction industry.

Results:

Those employed as labourers or machine operators had an adjusted rate of 18 per 100,000 persons (95%CI 14–22) and those employed in skilled trades had an adjusted rate of 13 per 100,000 (95%CI 11–15) over the period 2001 to 2010. Compared to skilled trades, the lower skilled group had significantly elevated suicide at several time points over the period 2001 to 2010. The most observable difference in IRRs were in the years 2002 and 2007.

Conclusions:

Low-skilled workers in the construction industry had elevated rates of suicide compared to skilled trades workers.

Implications:

These workers should be targeted by prevention efforts.

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