Work & suicide: Evolving understandings of aetiology & intervention

Prof. Anthony D. LaMontagne
Professor Deakin University

There is growing social, policy and research interest in the relationship between work and suicide. In this rapidly evolving area, opinions differ on the state of the evidence on aetiology and intervention, as well as the appropriate policy and practice responses. In this presentation, I will briefly recount the evolution of research on work and suicide, contrasting knowledge where work-relatedness is investigated on an individual case-based approach versus using population-based epidemiologic approaches. The rapidly growing literature over the last decade on job stressors and suicide will be highlighted in the discussion of epidemiologic approaches. Notwithstanding the limitations of observational evidence, I will argue that there is adequate information to justify policy and practice action at various levels. Finally, an overview of the current state of workplace suicide prevention will be provided, illustrated by the extensively evaluated MATES program targeting blue collar male workers.

Professor Tony LaMontagne ’s career has been dedicated to developing the scientific and public understanding of work as a social determinant of health, and translating this research into policy and practice to improve workplace and worker health. Specific areas of interest include workplace mental health, improving job quality and psychosocial working conditions, and evaluating policy interventions. His research and publications have influenced policy & practice in workplace health both nationally and internationally, including OH&S authorities, mental health NGOs, the (Australian) National Mental Health Commission, the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and the World Health Organisation.