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Health care occupations and suicide in Sweden 1961-1985.

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  • 1Psychosocial Research Unit, Nacka, Sweden.


The sex and age standardized incidence rates of suicide and undetermined deaths in Sweden were described for physicians, dentists, registered nurses, attendants in psychiatric care and auxiliary nurses for the five years following each of the censuses, 1960, 1970, 1975 and 1980. Amongst men all the occupations apart from registered nurses show increasing suicide rates from 1960, with significantly higher suicide rates during the seventies than the total male working population. A radical fall in the number of suicides amongst physicians, dentists and registered nurses took place in the period 1981-85, whilst attendants in psychiatric care and auxiliary nurses show a continuing significant excess in suicide rate. Among female physicians, there was an extremely high suicide rate in 1960, followed by a distinct fall until the period 1981-85 although the rates were significantly elevated in all periods. Female dentists show consistently high suicide rates during the seventies and eighties. Registered nurses show a reduction from a significantly high rate in the period 1961-65 and the seventies to a level equal to the total female working population. Female attendants in psychiatric care and auxiliary nurses have low rates in almost all periods. These suicide trends are compared with an increase in the proportion of women in gainful employment as well as the radical alteration in family patterns in Sweden during the seventies. Further research should emphasize the change in social roles, both in the labour market and in the family.

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