Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2017;43(5):457-464    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3646 | Published online: 17 May 2017, Issue date: 01 Sep 2017

Loss of permanent employment and its association with suicidal ideation: a cohort study in South Korea

by Yoon S, Kim JY, Park J, Kim S-S

Objective Precarious employment is associated with worse mental health, but it is unclear whether changes in employment status are related to suicidal behaviors. This study examined the association between change in employment status and suicidal ideation among workers in South Korea.

Methods To maximize power of the analysis, we combined data from the ongoing Korean Welfare Panel Study. We analyzed 3793 participants who were permanent workers at baseline (2011–2014) and who either: (i) maintained permanent employment; (ii) became a full-time precarious worker; (iii) became a part-time precarious worker; or (iv) became unemployed in the following year (2012–2015). Suicidal ideation was assessed annually by asking participants, “Have you ever seriously thought about dying by suicide in the past year?” Logistic regression was applied to examine associations between change in employment status and suicidal ideation, adjusting for potential confounders such as lifetime suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms at baseline.

Results Participants who became part-time precarious workers were more likely to have suicidal ideation [odd ratio (OR) 2.37, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.07–5.25, P=0.033] compared to those who remained permanent workers. In analysis restricted to workers who never previously thought about dying by suicide, suicidal ideation was more common among those who became either full-time (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.09–4.99, P=0.029) or part-time (OR 3.94, 95% CI 1.46–10.64, P=0.007) precarious workers.

Conclusions Our findings suggest that change in employment status from permanent to precarious employment may increase suicidal ideation among workers in South Korea.

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