In the month dedicated worldwide to suicide prevention, Brazilian data reinforce the alert: more than 8.5 thousand cases are registered per year in the country. And these deaths may vary according to the jobs occupied. This is what points out a new study published by the Institute of Collective Health of the Federal University of Bahia (ISC / UFBA). According to the survey, agricultural workers have the highest suicide mortality in the country among all categories investigated.
The survey analyzed data from 2007 to 2015, when 77,373 suicides were recorded in Brazil. In the first year, mortality among farmers was 16.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2015, this index jumped to 20.5, which is double the average for all workers in general. The researchers analyzed records from the Mortality Information System (SIM) and the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD).
“Our intention was to verify if there were differences in suicide mortality among occupational groups, suggesting the participation of labor factors in their determination,” explains Professor Vilma Santana, coordinator of ISC / UFBA’s Integrated Environmental and Workers Health Program, who led the study. According to her, the association between agricultural work and suicide is not unique to Brazil. “In various regions of the world, studies confirm this relationship,” he notes.
Factors such as low income, job instability, productivity pressure, limited access to education and quality health services may be some of the hypotheses for the increased risk of suicide among farm workers. Still according to the researchers, several studies also suggest that exposure to chemicals present in pesticides may be a major cause.
“Many of these substances can lead to depression, anxiety, among other mental disorders, or neurodegenerative diseases, which can contribute to suicide,” says researcher Milena Cordeiro, coordinator of the study.
Industry workers recorded the second highest suicide rate in the country, the fastest growing in the period. In 2007, the rate among industrialists was 10.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, rising to 14.2 in 2015. This is equivalent to a 30% increase in suicide mortality.
In the assessment for men and women separately, the highest estimates remain for males in all years of the study, both among farmers and industrialists. “When we analyzed by age, we found that, in agriculture, there was no predominance of men over women who committed suicide. But yes, as they got older, when mortality from suicide got higher again among men. In industry, the risk of suicide was always higher in males, without significant differences regarding the occupational group, ”explains Vilma Santana.
Also according to the survey, servants of military institutions, such as the Armed Forces, firefighters and police, also had a high risk of suicide. However, the absolute number of cases in the study period, less than 100 among men and 30 among women, limits the conclusions. For researchers, specific studies that are more appropriate to the characteristics of these servers are needed.
“Some occupational subgroups also had high estimates, such as sales and security and security service workers, as well as maids, who will also need to focus on specific research,” says Milena Cordeiro.
For Professor Vilma Santana, in addition to outlining suicide mortality in the country, the findings of the study also serve as a warning for the incorporation of prevention actions in the workplace through health promotion and quality of life programs. within companies and institutions. “The destigmatization of mental illnesses and the strengthening of support networks favor the reception and provide the correct referral”, he concludes.