A new US study has revealed that the architecture and engineering professions carry a far higher suicide risk than most other occupational streams in modern economies.
The study undertaken by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathered data on a total of 12,312 suicides committed in 2012 across 17 American states, and categorised each of the cases based on the occupational codes of the deceased.
This enabled researcher to calculate the rate of suicide for each profession per 100,000 population, as well as rank various occupational streams in terms of suicide risk.
The study found that architects and engineers comprise the professional group that is the fifth most at risk of suicide, with a rate of 32.2 per 100,000 population.
This rate is substantially higher than that for other similar white collar professions, such as jobs within the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media sectors, for which the suicide rate is 24.3 per 100,000 population.
The farming, fishing and forestry sectors suffer from the highest suicide levels, with a rate of 84.5, while the lowest suicide risk is found in the education, training and librarian cohort, where the rate is a mere 7.5.
Architects and engineers would at first glance appear to be unlikely candidates for high suicide risk, given that there is nothing inherently confronting or traumatic about the process of designing buildings and structures. The high-pressure work environments and poor work-life balance that characterise many places of employment within the AEC sector, however, could be key contributors to severe stress amongst professionals.
A study recently undertaken by Seek Learning determined that architecture and design are one of the five worst professions in Australia when it comes to providing sound work-life balance.
The survey they conducted found that 15 per cent of all members of the architecture and design professions considered their work-life balance to be poor to terrible, while over a sixth said they were unhappy with their current work-life balance.
The majority of architects surveyed showed a tepid or worse attitude towards their work life, with a further 22 per cent saying that their work-life balance was average, and 20 per cent indicating that they were neither happy nor unhappy with their work-balance as it stood.