Suicide & The Workplace -- Globalization, Job Strain, and the Dark Side of the New Economy: Interview with Dr. Allison Milner | Episode 30

NOTE: This podcast will air on 2/26/19 at 10:00AM ET


Too often when we talk about mental health promotion and suicide prevention in the workplace, the main message is about how to get workers who are suffering to counselors. Not enough attention is paid to the environmental aspects of the workplace that may be contributing to despair and what peers, managers and leadership can do to solve these problems. The research is clear — job strain is connected to suicide risk (Milner, et al, 2017). In particular certain types of job strain are related to suicide attempts and death:

  • Low control (limited decision-making)

  • High demand (pressure, workload)

  • Effort-reward imbalance (e.g., high pressure/expectations with little reward — income, respect or security)

  • Job insecurity

  • Bullying/harassment (Leach et al)

On this podcast I interview an international authority on workplace suicide and mental health research, Dr. Allison Milner. Join us as we explore some of the social determinants of suicide through a social justice lens in the world of work.

“Suicide prevention doesn’t just magically happen on the psychiatrist’s couch…It happens peer-to-peer. We need the day-to-day interactions to support mental health services and help resolve issues when they are smaller.”

About Dr. Allison Milner

Allison Milner

Dr. Allison Milner is a Deputy Director of the Disability and Health Unit, Melbourne School Population and Global Health, the University of Melbourne. Her current areas of research interests include the influence of gender, employment characteristics, quality of work, and occupation as determinants of mental health and suicide. Allison also focuses on specific employed groups that may be particularly likely to face disadvantage, such as blue-collar workers in the manufacturing and construction industry. Allison’s work ranges across a number of externally-funded etiologic and intervention projects. She works with key policy stakeholders to promote research on the link between work and mental health, and is the co-chair for an international panel of researchers aiming to promote workplace suicide prevention. She has been awarded the Victorian Health and Medical Research Fellowship for her work on gender, employment and mental health. In this work, she is progressing the concept of “gendered working environments” as a cause of health inequalities.

Show Notes

CDC Article on Job Strain and Suicide

Leach, L., Poyser, C. & Butterworth, P. (2017). Workplace bullying and the association with suicidal ideation/thoughts and behavior: A systemic review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 74: 72-79.

Milner, A. et al. (2013) Suicide by occupation: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science 203(6):409-16 DOI:  10.1192/bjp.bp.113.128405

Milner, A., Witt, K., LaMontagne, A. & Niedhammer, I. (2017). Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: A meta-analysis and systemic review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Retrieved on January 3, 2018 from .

MATES in Construction

International Association of Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Special Interest Group

Australian Research Institute

Screening Tool for Assessing Risk of Suicide (STARS)

Emile Durkheim (1897) — on suicide and wider contextual factors (not just mental health)

International Labor Organization on Globalization and worker mental health

Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention

SAMHSA: Emergency Responders and Behavioral Health

NPR: Suicide Is Rising Among American Farmers As They Struggle To Keep Afloat

Workplace Suicide Prevention Resources


Comprehensive Blueprint for Workplace Suicide Prevention (Workplace Task Force, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention)

Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (Australia)

Workplace Suicide Prevention Training

Advanced Student Support (for peers and other non-clinicians):

Matrix of all Gatekeeper trainings: 

Workplace Mental Health Screening Programs

Upstream and Midstream Workplace Resources

Additional Model Programs

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Sally Spencer-Thomas