For the study, Wei-Shan Chin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Taiwan, and colleagues recruited workers from Taiwan who sustained occupational injuries requiring hospitalization for three days or longer. Some 2,300 workers responded to questionnaires sent by mail at three months and 12 months after the injury; the questionnaires collected information on the workers’ demographics, work instability, injury severity, psychological symptoms (Brief Symptom Rating Scale [BSRS-5] and the Posttraumatic Symptom Checklist [PTSC]), and suicidal ideation. Workers with a high score on the BSRS-5 or PTSC were asked to take an in-depth psychiatric evaluation administered by psychiatrists or trained nurses who used a structured clinical interview (a Chinese version of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview [MINI]). Six years later, 1,715 of these workers completed a similar assessment.
The estimated MINI-diagnosed suicidality rates were 5.4%, 4.8%, and 9.5% at three months, 12 months, and six years after occupational injury, respectively, the authors reported. At six years, participants with an injury that had a major negative impact on their physical appearance had a 1.7 times greater risk of suicidal ideation; those with unstable employment had a 1.5 times greater risk; and those with reduced income within the past year compared with before the injury had a 1.6 higher risk.
“These results suggest that suicidality does not improve with time but remains a vital issue after occupational injury,” the authors wrote. Thus, periodic monitoring of psychological and physical health is warranted after an occupational injury. Moreover, the authors noted, “Future studies should develop effective strategies for minimizing suicidality after occupational injury and for the early detection of high-risk workers.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Data Mining May Help Identify Suicide Risk.”