29 March 2017

Men working in the lowest-skilled occupations are 44% more at risk from suicide than the male national average according to official figures.

The risk of suicide among low-skilled male labourers, particularly those working in construction roles, is three times higher than the male national average, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

Described by the GMB union as "a wake-up call for the whole country", the data — which covers England only — is the first analysis of suicide rates according to occupation.

Males in skilled trades face a 35% higher risk than average, with plasterers, painters and decorators found to be particularly at risk, with more than double the risk of suicide than the male national average.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in England in adults below the age of 50, the ONS highlights, and previous research shows that some occupations are at particularly high risk.

The report describes recent analysis of deaths from suicide in different occupational groups among those aged between 20 and 64.

It found a greater risk of suicide for those in culture, media and sport occupations for both males (20% higher than average) and females (69% higher).

For women, the risk of suicide among health professionals was 24% higher than the female national average — something largely attributed to a high suicide risk among female nurses.

The lowest risk of suicide was found among people working as managers, directors and senior officials (the highest paid occupation group).

Jude Brimble of the GMB said the figures exposed a national crisis and that unacceptable cultures of exploitation, poverty pay and insecurity still persist in parts of the manufacturing and construction industries.

"Suicides by occupation, England: 2011 to 2015" is available at http://bit.ly/2nP3vgZ.