In a recent study in France, one third of the respondents who said they’d considered suicide within the past year cited working and employment conditions as the reason. Fear of losing one’s job was the top stressor, followed by verbal threats, humiliation and intimidation at work.

Some 3.8 percent of workers between the ages of 18 and 75 said they’d had suicidal thoughts within the 12 months preceding the study, with women affected more than men (4.5 percent versus 3.1 percent).

Those who were self-employed were more likely (4.32%) to consider suicide than employees of companies (2.85%). Among women, blue-collar workers were more likely (5.13%) to have suicidal thoughts than white-collars (4.84%). The percentage dropped to 3.91% among women managers.

Among men, the highest percentage was found among skilled craftsmen, traders and entrepreneurs (3.56%), followed by farmers (3.49%) and blue-collar workers (3.01%). The lowest percentage applied to managers (2.62%).

In terms of industries, food service topped the list at 6.8% for both women and men, followed by the performing arts, teaching, healthcare and social work.

The study also found a strong correlation with one’s place on the social ladder: employees earning less than €1500 a month (1,681 USD) were more than twice as likely to consider suicide as people with a higher income.

The study was published in the Bulletin épidémiologique hebdomadaire (BEH) – a weekly epidemiological bulletin – of the French public health agency.

The rising rate of suicides among French police officers – 24 in the first three and a half months of 2019 - led to Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner announcing an effort in April of this year to prevent such tragedies.

However, researcher Sébastien Roché (CNRS) expressed frustration about the lack of any research into the causes of the increase: “There seems to be little will to understand.”

One theory for upsurge in police suicides: the need to deal with growing civil unrest in the country, such as the “Yellow Vest” movement.

  • P. Delèzire, V. Gigonzac et al., Pensées suicidaires dans la population active occupée en France en 2017, BEH, n°3-4, 5 février 2019
  • Le Monde, Suicides dans la police : l’état d’urgence, 22-23 avril 2019
  • SUD-Solidaires
  • Bulletin épisdémiologique hebdomadaire (pdf - 2.70 Mb)