Lawyers Rank Fourth Among Professions With Highest Suicide Rates

January 20th, 2014

Some very sad numbers from a recent CNN report:

Lawyers ranked fourth when the proportion of suicides in that profession is compared to suicides in all other occupations in the study population (adjusted for age).They come right behind dentists, pharmacists and physicians.

Lawyers are also prone to depression, which the American Psychological Association, among others, identified as the most likely trigger for suicide. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers. …

CNN’s review of 50 state bar associations found eight associations so concerned about suicides that they took measures to stop the deadly pattern. California, Montana, Iowa, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina added a “mental health” component to mandatory legal continuing education. Kentucky starts its annual conference on continuing education with a presentation on behaviors that increase the risk of suicide. So far, Kentucky has reached 7,000 lawyers.

These unfortunate numbers also hold true for law students as well.

The problem starts as early as law school. Dr. Andy Benjamin of the University of Washington conducted a study of law students that estimated 40% suffered from depression by the time they graduated. After law school comes the high stress process of admission to the bar, when Lukasik said lawyers fear reporting treatment for any type of depression or mental illness because they risk not meeting the “character and fitness” requirements. “They could shut down their career,” he said. Most state bars make subjective decisions as to whether mental illness or depression, treated or untreated, are barriers to a candidate’s certification to practice law.

Read the entire report.