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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2019 Mar;65(2):144-150. doi: 10.1177/0020764019831327. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Effects of work conditions on suicidal ideation among middle-aged adults in South Korea.

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Department of Health Administration, Hanyang Women's University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Korea has the highest rate of suicide in the world and has held this rank for the last decade. Suicide has risen especially sharply among 45- to 54-year-old Koreans; there were about 32.1 suicides per 100,000 individuals in 2015, and this contributed significantly to the rising suicide rate in Korea. Recently, adverse work conditions, including insecure employment and shift work, have been suggested as a suicide risk factor. However, little is known about the influence of insecure employment on suicidal ideation among middle-aged adults. Furthermore, prior research has examined the association between shift work and suicidal ideation only among individuals engaged in specific jobs, such as police work or firefighting, and those investigations have not focused on middle-aged adults.


This study investigated the influence of employment status and shift work on suicidal ideation among middle-aged adults.


The sample comprised waged, middle-aged adult employees ( n = 2,364) aged 45-64 years who had participated in the cross-sectional Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2015. Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, this study evaluated the associations of employment status and shift work with suicidal ideation among middle-aged adults.


The major finding was that insecure employment status was independently associated with suicidal ideation in middle-aged adults (odds ratio (OR) = 2.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) = [1.27, 4.94]) and that shift work was significantly associated with suicidal ideation among middle-aged adults (OR = 2.30, 95% CI = [1.14, 4.66]).


The findings of this study highlight the need for multidimensional interventions regarding suicide, especially for middle-aged adults engaged in insecure jobs and shift work. Multidimensional interventions, including early screening for suicidal thoughts during routine medical check-ups, readily available work-based counselling programmes and regular monitoring, are likely to be useful.


Suicidal ideation; insecure employment; middle-aged adults; shift work; work conditions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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