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Workplace Sexual Harassment Tied to Suicide Risk

MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2020 -- Sexual harassment at work is associated with an increased risk for suicidal behavior, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in The BMJ.

Linda L. Magnusson Hanson, Ph.D., from Stockholm University, and colleagues assessed the relationship between exposure to workplace sexual harassment and suicide among 86,451 men and women of working age in paid work surveyed between 1995 and 2013.

The researchers found that 0.1 percent died from suicide and 1 percent had a suicide attempt during follow-up (rate, 0.1 and 0.8 cases per 1,000 person-years, respectively). Overall, suicide occurred among 11 of 4,095 participants exposed to workplace sexual harassment and 114 of 81,110 unexposed participants. When adjusting for a range of sociodemographic characteristics, workplace sexual harassment was associated with an excess risk for both suicide (hazard ratio, 2.82) and suicide attempts (hazard ratio, 1.59). These risk estimates remained significantly increased when further adjusting for baseline health and certain work characteristics.

"Victims of sexual harassment should receive mental health screening and treatment to mitigate risks for subsequent mental health concerns and suicidality," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Abstract/Full Text

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Posted: September 2020

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