The economic cost of suicide and non-fatal suicide behavior in the Australian workforce and the potential impact of a workplace suicide prevention strategy
Suicide and non-fatal suicide behavior (NFSB) are significant problems faced by most countries. The objective of this research is to quantify the economic cost of suicide and NFSB in the Australian workforce and to examine the potential impact of introducing a workplace suicide prevention intervention to reduce this burden. The analysis used the best available suicide data, a well-established costing methodology, and a proven workplace intervention. In 2014, 903 workers died by suicide, 2303 workers harmed themselves resulting in full incapacity, and 11,242 workers harmed themselves resulting in a short absence from work. The present value of the economic cost of suicide and NFSB is estimated at $6.73 billion. Our analysis suggests the economic benefit of implementing a universal workplace strategy would considerably outweigh the cost of the strategy. For every one dollar invested, the benefits would be in excess of $1.50 ($1.11–$3.07), representing a positive economic investment. All variations of the key parameter hold the positive benefit-cost ratio. Rates of suicide and NFSB are far too high in Australia and elsewhere. More needs to be done to reduce this burden. Although workplace strategies are appropriate for those employed, these interventions must be used within a multifaceted approach that reflects the complex nature of self-harming behavior.