Female primary teachers have 42% higher-than-average risk of suicide

This could be caused by 'toxic mix' of workload and long working hours, teachers' union says

Adi Bloom

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Female nursery and primary teachers have a significantly higher risk of suicide than the average woman, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

They are 42 per cent more likely to kill themselves, according to the new data.

For the first time, the ONS has released a breakdown of suicide figures by occupation, highlighting those workers at particular risk.

There were 2,544 suicides in England among women between 2011 and 2015: the period covered by the report. Of these, 102 were primary or nursery teachers.

There were far fewer suicides among women in the secondary sector, meaning that the overall risk of suicide for all female teachers was 31 per cent lower than the national average for women in England. During the period 2011 to 2015, there were 139 suicides in total among female teaching and education professionals.

Male teachers were not at particular risk of suicide. But men are, in general, at much greater risk of suicide than women: four out of five – 10,688 in total – of suicides in the period covered were men.

'Toxic mix'

Nansi Ellis, of the ATL teaching union, said: “The statistics give a hard edge to the stories we hear time and again from our members – that they are exhausted from the constant stress of never feeling they are on top of their workload, and that they feel expected to devote every minute of their lives to their work.

“That this toxic mix could be leading to an increase in suicides is a scandal.”

The ONS report states: “Attempting to explain suicide by occupation is complex, as it is likely that a number of factors act together to increase risk.”

It added that low pay and low job security increased an individual’s vulnerability to suicide.

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans on 116 123 (this number will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website.

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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