Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Community News Network

March 31, 2014

Wall Street suicides related to demographics, not work

After the suicides of eight people in the global financial sector over six months, investment banks have come under pressure to pay more attention to the mental health of their employees. The high-stress, competitive environment - with its unpredictably punishing workweeks - are seen as creating the conditions for pushing some people over the edge.

The top firms now encourage junior bankers to take some weekend days off each month. Such changes are welcome, even if they were motivated by competition from hedge funds and private equity firms for talent rather than a response to the deaths. But let's put the problem in perspective. In answer to the question raised in a recent Fortune magazine article, no, there isn't a suicide contagion on Wall Street. Rather, the handful of suicides, tragic as each one is, involved the segment of the population most at risk: white men, particularly over 50.

The death that got the most publicity wasn't a suicide. A 21-year-old intern who was working day and night in London at Bank of America Corp. died on Aug. 15 from asphyxiation after a seizure, a condition for which he was already taking medication. As for the confirmed and suspected suicides, which occurred from last August to February, the victims ranged in age from 33 to 59; half were over 50.

They weren't young men in over their heads; they were well- established. Two employees of J.P. Morgan Chase who committed suicide weren't investment bankers, per se: one was a vice president overseeing technology for fixed-income securities and the other was an associate in the billing department supporting the investment bank.

So how does finance compare with other professions in frequency of suicides? Data are hard to find. Fortune magazine asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest statistics from its National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database. Numbers from 2007 indicate that "sales representatives for financial and business services" - which includes various banking positions, including investment advisers, brokers and traders - are 39 percent more likely to kill themselves than people in the workforce as a whole.

But some other white-collar professionals are at even greater risk: Lawyers are 54 percent more likely than average to die by suicide, for example, and doctors are 97 percent more likely.

This suggests that the finance profession isn't causing people to kill themselves, rather that banking has high concentrations of workers in the demographic group at greatest risk for self-harm. In the United States, men are four times as likely as women to take their lives; white males are three times more likely than blacks and twice as likely as Asians and Hispanics. The overall suicide rate increased by 30 percent in the last decade. The jump was most pronounced among men in their 50s; their suicide rates jumped by nearly 50 percent, to about 30 per 100,000 nationwide.

Yes, Wall Street is an intense place. Because junior employees' schedules are at the behest of clients around the clock, it is hard to count on time with family and friends. Social isolation becomes a risk. Complaining to bosses and co- workers can be read as a sign of weakness. That may increase reluctance to seek guidance or professional help, though the major investment firms have employee-assistance programs.

But most young people who enter investment banking know what they are getting into. Many have already done internships in finance and some fraction of them returned to those firms after graduating. Yes, the hours are extreme, and the competition fierce - "Lord of the Flies" with town cars - but ambitious people starting out in Silicon Valley, in surgical residencies and as associates in law firms also work long hours. And on Wall Street the paychecks ease the pain. Hours significantly decrease with seniority and promotions and, over time, bankers can jump to perches that allow more autonomy such as private equity groups, hedge funds or venture capital.

Suicide is a bewildering act, often precipitated by a profound sense of humiliation, failure and hopelessness. There seems no way out. Bankers are susceptible to the same miasma of despair that can befall anyone - failed relationships, loss, rejection, terminal illness, severe clinical depression. The computer's unblinking eye, the hard-charging boss and sleepless art of the deal aren't themselves driving people over the ultimate brink.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

Featured Ads
Mineral Wells Index


Click on a photo to visit our SmugMug page

Front page
Weather Underground Radar
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Must Read
Seasonal Content
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide