Caring Service, Strong Results. TM

Study Shows Workplace Injuries Contribute to the Increase in Suicide & Overdose Deaths: What Can Be Done?

Drug overdoses and suicides have been rising since 2000 and are major contributors to a recent decline in West Virginia’s life expectancy. The opioid crisis is a big part of the problem with a record West Virginia Coal Miner in the mines47,600 overdose deaths in 2017. Suicides have also increased by 30% from 1999. A recent study shows that there’s more to the problem than drug addiction alone.

In the study, “Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury,”  researchers found that workplace injury significantly raises a person’s risk of suicide and overdose death. Earlier studies have shown that injured workers have elevated rates of opioid use and depression. Indeed, depression is among the most well-documented health consequences of workplace injuries. However, no previous studies have measured increased deaths related to opioid use and depression among injured workers.

What the Suicide and Drug-Related Mortality Following Occupational Injury Study Shows

According to this study of over 100,000 employees, workers who suffered an injury that caused them to miss work for at least a week were significantly more likely to die from suicide or overdose death. Specifically, men who suffered these injuries were 29 percent more likely to die from a drug overdose and 72 percent more likely to die from suicide. The difference in women was more significant: women were 193 percent more likely to die from a drug overdose and 92 percent more likely to die from suicide!

The study found that injured workers often receive powerful prescription pain medication, including opioids. In one study, 42% of workers with back injuries were prescribed opioids within a year after injury. Approximately 16% of those prescribed opioids continued taking them for four quarters, with doses increasing substantially over time. 

Another factor that may be contributing to the rise in drug overdoses and suicides in injured workers is the fact that many workers support their families, and when they’re injured, they sometimes can’t do that anymore. This often causes injured workers to feel distressed about not being able to take care of their family like they once did.

Worse yet, West Virginia worker’s compensation is often grossly inadequate to provide for an injured worker and his family while he or she recovers from a workplace injury. Worker’s compensation insurance carriers sometimes fight injured worker’s tooth and nail, and West Virginia law provides little to no relief when insurance carriers cheat injured workers, by hiring unscrupulous “independent” medical examiners, for example.

What can West Virginia do to Help Injured Workers?

Studies like the one above are beginning to show a link between work injury, opioids, addiction, and suicide and will hopefully help guide the nation as it works to address the opioid crisis. The CDC has identified the following steps as important to substantially reducing workplace injuries:

  • Improved pain treatment
  • Better treatment of substance use disorders
  • Improved working conditions
  • Treatment of post-injury depression

Also, as individual West Virginians, we can contribute to the solution by talking about the risks and dangers injured workers face. Isolation is a leading cause of depression, suicide, and drug abuse. The workplace is also often a place of community for employees. When employees are injured in a workplace accident and can no longer work, they get cut off from a part of their community. And this often leads to isolation.

Talking about these issues with friends and loved ones who have suffered a workplace injury can help them feel less isolated and alone. Also, by talking about these issues, we can raise awareness of the obstacles injured workers face. Knowing what dangers lie ahead is critical to overcoming them.

Free Case Evaluation From An Experienced West Virginia Workplace Injury Lawyer

We hope that you and your loved ones have a safe workplace and remain free from injury. However, if you or a loved one is injured at work or in an accident, we invite you to call West Law Firm for a Free Case Evaluation. There’s also No Fees or costs of any kind unless and until we recover compensation for you. Our toll-free number is 1-877-943-9378 (WEST).

Request a free consultation

Fill out the form below to receive
a free initial consultation.
FIELD REQUIRED
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Testimonials

West Law Firm has great lawyers. They helped me in my case and every time I needed to call or talk to someone they were willing to talk and help me in anyway. They truly care about what they do and they have an amazing team. I will recommend them to all my friends and family. Thanks again!
Celeste
I’ve worked with other attorneys in the past, but West Law Firm has gone over and above my expectations! I was expecting the same old runaround about when somebody could get to my case. They kept me up-to-date about everything happening in my case so there was no need for me to call and ask questions continuously. They really worked for me and I would highly recommend these people.
Donna
Very professional, super friendly. They are definitely not your average law team. They went above and beyond my exceptions and received 3 times the amount I thought I’d get.
Deanna
Read more reviews
Contact
Us Today

Call Us

phone 1-877-943-9378
local 1-304-343-9378

visit us

1514 Kanawha Blvd E, Suite 2
Charleston, WV 25311

get directions
request A free consultation
If you were injured in West Virginia by another’s negligence or carelessness, don't wait.
Fill out the form below to receive a free initial consultation.
FIELD REQUIRED
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.