State worker suicide on the increase
August 27, 2010
The number of calls from state employees for workplace grief counseling has doubled as officials also grapple with a rise in employee suicide. [Sacramento Bee]
Counselors met 33 times in 2009 with state employees traumatized by the suicide of a colleague, compared with 14 calls in 2008. There were 18 calls in 2007, the first year for which figures are available.
“And not every suicide is declared,” said UC Davis psychologist Phillip Shaver. “Some people kill themselves and no one ever knows it.”
Analysts say that the state’s unprecedented labor unrest – on-again, off-again furloughs that cut state worker pay nearly 15 percent, fractured labor relations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, rising public disdain for civil servants – has increased tension for a group of people who tend to value security and predictability in their work.
Assuming a one-to-one relationship between state employee suicides and counseling calls, last year’s numbers translate into nearly 14 deaths per 100,000 state workers. That’s up from about six per 100,000 in 2008 and nearly eight per 100,000 in 2007.
There were eight suicides per 100,000 residents in the four-county Sacramento region in 2009, down from 11 per 100,000 the year before.