Research Finds Workplace Injuries Contribute to Rise in Suicide, Overdose Deaths

A study coauthored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers and published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine finds that an injury serious enough to lead to at least a week off of work almost triples the combined risk of suicide and overdose death among women and increases the risk by 50% among men.

"These findings suggest that work-related injuries contribute to the rapid increase in deaths from both opioids and suicides," said study senior author Leslie Boden, professor of environmental health at BUSPH. "Improved pain treatment, better treatment of substance use disorders, and treatment of post-injury depression may substantially improve quality of life and reduce mortality from workplace injuries."

To estimate the association between workplace injury and death, Boden and his colleagues looked at 100,806 workers in New Mexico, 36,034 of whom had lost-time injuries from 1994 through 2000. The researchers used workers' compensation data for that period, Social Security Administration earnings and mortality data through 2013, and National Death Index cause-of-death data through 2017. They found that men who had had a lost-time injury were 72% more likely to die from suicide and 29% more likely to die from drug-related causes. 

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