Mental health experts link job stress to suicide

Each year in the United States 31-thousand Americans commit suicide.

In Ohio, three people take their own lives every day. And 25-thousand Ohioans visit to the emergency room each year for failed suicide attempts.

Local mental health professionals say in Ohio and across the country maybe having trouble coping with job-related stress. The recent death of former Enron CEO Ken Lay of a massive heart attack is textbook example of catastrophic stress according to cardiologists. Lay was scheduled to be sentenced on fraud and conspiracy charges after the company he founded went belly up.

Earlier this year in California, university of California-Santa Cruz chancellor Denice Denton leapt to her death form the roof of a San Francisco high rise. Her mother told police she had been very depressed over her professional and personal life.

Local mental health professionals say many people believe the demands of work are greater than ever, at the same time employers are offering less job security.

Kappy Madenwald is the Director of Clinical Services for Adam-H, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County. She says that seemingly lopsided equation leads to stress.

“People report that they’re working more hours that they’re under increasing pressure to meet timelines and to perform and perhaps under increasing concern that their job may not last,” she explained.

Madenwald says employees at or near the top of the corporate ladder are held to a high standard.

Mary Brett, the Clinical Director of Northwest Counseling Services agrees with Madenwald.

She says as companies reduced their payrolls in recent years there were fewer people to tackle an increased workload, often leaving employees feeling overwhelmed.

Brett says there is a fine line between feeling challenged at work and being stressed out. Brett says workplace stress is an equal opportunity consequence, men and women are equally affected. However, she says men are more likely to complete a suicide. Women are more likely to attempt it.

“Suicide is just about feeling overwhelmed and feeling there is no way out. And the person is experiencing a lot of whether its pain, overwhelmed that they don’t see any other solution. Men tend to choose more lethal methods which is why they result in death. Whereas women may take pills or have an attempt where someone is going to discover them and get them some help.”

Brett and Mapenwald agree upper management ranks are filled with high achievers and type-A personalities, people who appear to have their jobs and their lives under control.

Often Kapenwald says companies assume the calm, cool collected exterior of today’s executive accurately reflects his or her internal life.

Mary Brett says Northwest Counseling Services has twenty clinicians on hand to help stressed out execs with a variety of problems.

Kappy Madenwald of Adam-H says primary care physicians are trained to look for the physical symptoms of stress such as high blood pressure, obesity and substance abuse. And while she says while depression triggered by the trials and tribulations of the workplace is simple to treat, many people are still too embarrassed to ask for help.

Kappy Madenwald says only about fifty percent of people who suffer from depression seek professional help.

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