People who are victims of sexual harassment on the job are almost three times more at risk of suicide and more than one and a half times at risk of attempted suicide, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal. The dangers apply to both men and women.
The Swedish study of 85,205 men and women over a 13-year period covered workplace sexual harassment in the previous year from superiors, fellow workers or others, such as patients, clients, passengers and students. Some of the results:
- 8% reported harassment (1.9% of men and 7.5% of all women)
- Victims were likely to be younger, single or divorced
- Suicides, taken from public records, totaled 125, with attempted suicides at 816
- The suicide rate was 2.82 times greater than the overall population; attempted suicides were 1.59 times higher
Previous research has linked workplace sexual harassment to physical health issues, work absences and serious mental disorders, including psychological distress, depression and anxiety. Making matters worse, experts say workplace sexual harassment is certainly underreported.
Addressing sexual harassment at work
The study’s authors suggest their findings call for the need of workplace interventions. This is especially true when it comes to interactions with the public. Researchers said victims, mostly employed in high-pressure, low-paying jobs, reported harassment was more likely to come from the public than superiors or fellow workers.
U.S. researchers, in a linked editorial, said the study shows sexual harassment is both “a serious public health concern and workplace hazard.” They said the issue requires further study because traditional solutions – sexual harassment training, reporting and grievance procedures – have proven inadequate in addressing the risks of suicide or attempted suicide.
They emphasized the importance of studying and implementing other “promising, evidence-based solutions.” Among them are mental health screening and treatment for victims before they become a danger to themselves.
Addressing the issue after the fact
If you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, it is normal to feel ashamed. It is also normal to be afraid of causing trouble at work. The mental and emotional strain can take an unacceptable toll, both at work and in your personal life. Your employer may pass it off as “part of the job” when dealing with the public. Or they could blame it on you. You may even blame yourself. Nobody deserves to be treated in a way that makes them feel like less of a human being.
Sexual harassment lawyer Randy Andrus and his team at Andrus Law Firm have been helping victims like you in the Salt Lake City area for more than three decades. They have the depth of knowledge, experience and compassion to secure both justice and a fair settlement on your behalf. Contact them today for a free case consultation.