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Original research
Suicide deaths among diagnostic medical radiation workers in South Korea, 1996–2017
  1. Won Jin Lee1,2,
  2. Eun Shil Cha1,
  3. Ye Jin Bang1,
  4. Chia-Yueh Hsu3,4,5,
  5. Shu-Sen Chang5,6
  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  2. 2Graduate School of Public Health, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
  5. 5Psychiatric Research Center, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
  6. 6Institute of Health Behaviors and Community Sciences and Department of Public Health, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Won Jin Lee, Department of Preventive Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; leewj{at}


Objectives Suicide is a leading cause of death in the working-age population. We investigated suicide mortality among diagnostic medical radiation workers in relation to their demographic and occupational factors in South Korea.

Methods The study population consisted of all diagnostic medical radiation workers enrolled in the National Dosimetry Registry from 1996 to 2011. The registry data were linked with mortality data through the end of 2017. We calculated age-standardised suicide rates, standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and rate ratios (RRs) by demographic and occupational factors.

Results A total of 207 suicides were identified among 94 367 medical radiation workers, exhibiting a suicide rate of 14.0 per 100 000 person-years. Compared with the general population, suicide rates were lower for both male and female workers (SMR 0.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 to 0.57; SMR 0.54, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.70, respectively). Similarly, decreased SMRs were observed across job titles and other work-related factors. However, a shorter duration of employment was positively associated with RRs for suicide; risks were 2.74 (95% CI 1.56 to 4.81) and 4.66 (95% CI 1.53 to 14.20) times higher in male and female workers with less than 1 year of employment, respectively, than in those with at least 10 years of employment.

Conclusions Diagnostic medical radiation workers in South Korea showed lower suicide rates than in the general population. However, a shorter duration of employment was associated with higher risk of suicide. Suicide prevention efforts could target workers engaged in short-term employment.

  • health care workers
  • epidemiology
  • mortality studies
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  • Contributors WJL conceptualised the research and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. ESC and YJB performed the data analyses and interpreted the findings with WJL. S-SC and C-YH provided advice on the data analyses and critically revised the manuscript. All authors contributed to the draft revision and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF) grant funded by the Korea government(MSIT) (no. 2020R1A2C1008891).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of Korea University (KUIRB-2019-0092-03).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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