Longer Working Hours Associated With Increases In Suicidal Feelings


People who are working over 60 hours a week are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings than people working 52 hours a week or less, according to a study in PLoS One, based on data from Korea.

A team of researchers from the Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea examined data from 12,076 participants (7,164 men, 4,912 women) involved in Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

They found that people who worked 60 hours or more per week were about 1.37 times as likely to have experienced suicidal thoughts than people who worked 52 hours or less per week — and the rates were nearly identical in men and women.

These findings held, the authors wrote, “even after controlling for household income, marital status, history of hypertension or diabetes mellitus, health-related behaviors, and past two weeks’ experience of injury, intoxication, or acute or chronic diseases, as well as type of work.”

“In this study, long working hours were linked to suicidal thoughts for both genders,” they concluded. “Additionally, the odds of those suicidal thoughts were higher for lower socioeconomic groups.”


Yoon, Jin-Ha, Pil Kyun Jung, Jaehoon Roh, Hongdeok Seok, and Jong-Uk Won. “Relationship between Long Working Hours and Suicidal Thoughts: Nationwide Data from the 4th and 5th Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” PLoS ONE 10, no. 6 (June 16, 2015): e0129142. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129142. (Full text)


  1. to Rob Wipond
    Please stop the continuing use of “Suicidal Feelings”.

    The article says ” suicidal thoughts “.

    A person feels hunger , anger and despair, they do not feel the complex process of finding and preparing food (solution for hunger)
    A person does not feel the complex process of finding a method and date of a suicide(solution for despair.


    Report comment

    • Generally from what I have seen in the literature on suicide, researchers interchangeably use terms like suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, suicidal feelings, and suicidal thoughts. They do however usually distinguish between thoughts and feelings related to suicide, and actual concrete plans — but that is not relevant to this study.

      The actual question in this study was “Have you ever been willing to die during the past year?” Response options for this question were “yes” and “no.” So to me that seems ambiguous about whether a person would be responding based on thoughts or feelings, plans or general emotions, despair or philosophical open-mindedness etc… A criticism of the study’s conclusions might be that answers to this question would not necessarily truly reflect “suicidal” thoughts or feelings. My interpretation was that, in the context of the kind of questionnaire that was being administered, the intent of the question to get at suicidal or despairing feelings was probably clear to the interviewees.

      On a more general note, Merriam Webster has a long list of definitions for “feeling” which includes, “appreciative or responsive awareness or recognition”, “often unreasoned opinion or belief”, “the character ascribed to something”…

      I personally do not agree with — or do not understand — your attempt to distinguish between a feeling and a thought in this context. I would say that people do ‘feel’ the process of ‘thinking’ about a plan to do something, and conversely have ‘thoughts’ with feeling dimensions to them. To the point that I think/feel it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between the two, particularly when the thought or feeling is intense or emotionally charged, like “I want to die right now.”

      I’m not sure how the Szasz excerpt relates to these questions, although I always appreciate a deeper analysis of the complexity of what it really means to be suicidal, and why our culture has such a widespread, strong resistance or fear in relation to it.


      Report comment

      • I think it is a serious mistake to equate the feeling of despair with the action of suicide.
        “The person who kills himself sees suicide as a solution…. For the person who kills himself or plans to kill himself, suicide is, eo ipso, an action. Psychiatrists, however, maintain that suicide is a happening, the result of a disease: as coronary arteriosclerosis causes myocardial infarction, so clinical depression causes suicide.” is on the link to Szasz.

        A person who is feeling despair does not have to perform the action of suicide, or think of the process of reaching suicide. In this particular example of working long hours, they could quit their job to feel better.

        The question “willing to die” is a set up/frame job.

        Report comment

          • “We are not in control of our feelings , but we can control what we think about.”
            I respectfully disagree. The only thing that some of us kind of control is the words that come out of our mouths as we think and feel. The rest isn’t controllable unless you treat distraction as a form of control.

            Report comment