Skip to main content

Work and Suicide: An Empirical Investigation

  • D. M. Shepherd (a1) and B. M. Barraclough (a2)

The work histories of 75 completed suicides and 150 controls were compared to test Durkheim's theory of the protective nature of work. The suicides showed more unemployment, more absence through illness, had more frequent job changes and held their jobs for shorter periods. They were less likely to retire gradually. There was no difference in social class mobility. Suicides were more likely to come from high risk occupations. The comparatively poor work record of the suicides is attributed to their high level of psychiatric morbidity.

Hide All
Barraclough, B. M., Bunch, J., Nelson, B. & Sainsbury, P. (1974) A hundred cases of suicide: clinical aspects. British Journal of Psychiatry, 125, 355–73.
Breed, W. (1963) Occupational mobility and suicide among white males. American Sociological Review, 28, 2, 179–88.
Bunch, J., Barraclough, B. M., Nelson, B. & Sainsbury, P. (1971) Suicide following bereavement of parents. Social Psychiatry, 6, 193–9.
Durkheim, E. (1897) Le Suicide. Paris. Translated 1952 as Suicide: A Study in Sociology by Spaulding, J. A. and Simpson, C. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Morris, J. B., Kovacs, M., Beck, A. & Wolffe, A. (1974) Notes towards an epidemiology of urban suicide. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 15, (6), 537–47.
Porterfield, A. L. & Gibbs, J. P. (1960) Occupational prestige and social mobility of suicides in New Zealand. American Journal of Sociology, 66, 147–52.
Powell, E. (1958) Occupation, status and suicide: towards a redefinition of anomie. American Social Review, 23, (2), 131–9.
Registrar-General (1971) Occupational Mortality Tables 1961. HMSO: London.
Sainsbury, P. (1955) Suicide in London: an Ecological Study. Maudsley Monograph No. 1. Chapman & Hall: London.
Sainsbury, P. (1975) Suicide and attempted suicide. In Psychiatric der Gegenwart (ed. Kisker, K. P., Meyer, J.-E., Muller, C. and Strömgren, E.), pp. 557606. Springer-Verlag: Berlin.
Sanborn, D. E., Sanborn, C. J. & Cimbolic, P. (1974) Occupation and suicide. Diseases of the Nervous System, 35 (1), 712.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 4 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 23 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 29th January 2018 - 16th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Work and Suicide: An Empirical Investigation

  • D. M. Shepherd (a1) and B. M. Barraclough (a2)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *