Job Loss, Suicide, and Overdose: A Case Study On Michigan Autoworkers

Job Loss, Suicide, and Overdose: A Case Study on Michigan Autoworkers

About the Webinar: 

Suicide and fatal overdose rates have increased in the U.S. over the past few decades. These trends are particularly striking for midlife adults without college degrees. This trend may be due, in part, to a decline in manufacturing which has limited stable employment options for this population. Erosion of the Michigan automobile industry over the past 50 years provides an example. This webinar will discuss our ongoing cohort study of 26,800 Michigan autoworkers with mortality follow-up from 1970 to 2015, which offers a striking case study. We looked at suicide and overdose in this population in relation to leaving work. We used age at leaving work as an indicator of involuntary worker exit and compared suicide and overdose risk between workers who left work younger than retirement age to risk among retirees.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize deaths of dispair - suicide, overdose, and alcohol-related liver disease mortality - have been rising among U.S. adults without college degrees since the late 1990s

  2. Describe the relationship between job loss, depression, and risk of suicide

  3. Discuss the implications of the decline in stable manufacturing jobs with good benefits 

Instructor: Ellen Eisen, ScD

Ellen Eisen, ScD, is Director of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Training Program and Professor in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Trained in Biostatistics and Occupational Health (Physiology), she has longstanding interest in survival analysis of chronic disease in occupational cohort studies.  Professor Eisen has extensive experience addressing potential selection bias in studies of the health effects of long-term exposure to airborne chemicals and particulate matter in the workplace. She is interested in the application of causal inference methods to address health selection in and out of the workplace; physically healthy individuals are more likely to be hired and to remain employed and exposed. Because those more susceptible to the health effects of exposures are likely to terminate sooner, they leave behind an active workforce of survivors. Most of Professor Eisen's research focuses on large cohort studies of industrial workers and miners. She has studied chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease mortality in cohorts of truckers and miners exposed to diesel exhaust and dust, using both standard survival methods as well as g-methods that can address healthy worker survivor effect. She has also studied cancer incidence and mortality in autoworkers exposed to metalworking fluids.

Webinar Resources

Full Text Article - Suicide, overdose and worker exit in a cohort of Michigan autoworkers, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

AMA Issue Brief - Reports of increases in opiod- and other drug-related overdose and other concerns during COVID PandemicAmerican Medical Association Advocacy Resource Center