Tough economic conditions may have contributed to a 28 percent rise in workplace suicides in the United States last year as employees struggled with layoffs and survivor's guilt, a new federal report says.
A Labor Department preliminary report released Thursday said there were 251 workplace suicides in 2008, the highest number ever recorded.
"Those who are at places where there have been substantial layoffs are trying to cope with survivor's guilt," Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University, told the Associated Press. "I also think there's tremendous anxiety in the American workplace. It's not just being anxious, it's being depressed."
The total number of people who died on the job decreased 12 percent from 2007 to 2008. The 5,071 workplace deaths last year was the lowest number since the federal government started tracking the data in 1992. The overall decline in workplace deaths could be due to the poor economy, which led to fewer hours for workers, according to the Labor Department.
Among the other findings:
Workplace homicides decreased 18 percent.
There was a 20 percent drop in construction job deaths.
There were 20 percent fewer fatal workplace falls in 2008, following a record high number in 2007.
The final report will be released next year, the AP reported.