Work characteristics and suicidal ideation in young adults in France

  • Sarah L. Dalglish
  • Maria Melchior
  • Nadia Younes
  • Pamela J. SurkanEmail author
Original Paper



Job insecurity, unemployment, and job strain can predict psychological distress and suicide risk. Young people, who are particularly at risk of suicide, may be especially vulnerable to the deterioration of labor market conditions as a result of the current economic crisis in Europe. We aimed to examine the effects of work and employment characteristics on suicidal ideation in a contemporary sample of young adults.


Using data from a sample of French young adults surveyed in 2011 (TEMPO study, N = 1,214, 18–37 years old) and their parents who took part in a longitudinal cohort study, we used multiple logistic regression to examine the relationship between job insecurity, lifetime and recent unemployment and suicidal ideation in the past 12 months. Our analyses were adjusted for factors associated with suicidal risk including age, sex, educational attainment, living with a partner, insufficient social support, alcohol abuse, depression and parental history of depression.


Five percent of the sample reported suicidal ideation in the preceding 12 months. Controlling for all covariates, the likelihood of suicidal ideation was associated with job insecurity (OR 2.24, 95 % CI 1.08–4.63), lifetime unemployment (OR 2.25, 95 % CI 1.17–4.29), and recent unemployment (OR 2.10, 95 % CI 1.04–4.25). After stratifying by educational attainment, the association between suicidal ideation and job insecurity was particularly notable for participants with low educational attainment (OR 9.28, 95 % CI 1.19–72.33).


Young adults who have unstable and unfavorable employment characteristics are disproportionately likely to be suicidal, which should be monitored, particularly in times of economic downturn.


Suicide Unemployment Mental health Young adults 


Conflict of interest

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. All persons gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah L. Dalglish
    • 1
  • Maria Melchior
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nadia Younes
    • 4
    • 5
  • Pamela J. Surkan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.INSERM UMR_S 1136 Institut Pierre Louis d’Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique, Équipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie SocialeParisFrance
  3. 3.Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR_S 1136, Institut Pierre Louis d’Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique, Équipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie SocialeParisFrance
  4. 4.EA 40-47 Université Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-YvelinesGuyancourtFrance
  5. 5.Academic Unit of PsychiatryVersailles HospitalLe ChesnayFrance

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