Lawyers are often overworked and under stress. Even though it is often the job of a lawyer to counsel clients about legal options and attempt to fix other people’s problems, data indicates that lawyers may not always know how to fix their own mental difficulties. Those in the legal profession, just like everyone else, are not immune to suicide. In fact, research suggests that working lawyers have significantly higher rates of suicides than the average U.S citizen.
Some reasons for high suicide rates among lawyers might include:
- Mental Health Disorders
- Substance Abuse
Suicide is an immensely complicated issue that affects all professions to some degree and usually is not committed by an individual due to one cause. Nearly 34,000 people commit suicide each year which is about twice as many deaths as caused by homicide. Most common reasons that people commit suicide is related to in some way to the common causes I mentioned above. Suicide is obviously not just a issue affecting lawyers, but affects everyone. However, the reason why it affects lawyers more than the general population is most likely because lawyers are affected more by the causes: stress, depression, mental health disorders and substance abuse.
Some reasons why the potential causes above may impact lawyers more might include:
- Long work hours
- Stressful work environment
- Genetic mental conditions
- High stake situations
- Difficult clients
The high rates of suicide that affect lawyers and those in the legal profession is not a new problem. Since 1960, Lawyer Assistance Programs (LAPs) have blossomed in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The main mission of LAPs is “to achieve and maintain healthier physical and mental lifestyles through counseling, monitoring, and close support to protect the community at large from problems.” Even though the LAPs were created close to the 1960s, a powerful movement arose in mid-1990s that had a strong momentum to help the legal community. There are now more resources for organizations to help, and lawyers to seek help, than ever before. However, despite the important efforts that are helping aid this long-term problem, the issue is still remains significant as ever.