Loss of permanent employment and its association with suicidal ideation: A cohort study in South Korea

Seohyun Yoon, Ja Young Kim, Jooyoung Park, Seung Sup Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Precarious employment is associated with worse mental health, but it is unclear whether changes in employment status are related to suicidal behaviors. This study examined the association between change in employment status and suicidal ideation among workers in South Korea. Methods To maximize power of the analysis, we combined data from the ongoing Korean Welfare Panel Study. We analyzed 3793 participants who were permanent workers at baseline (2011-2014) and who either: (i) maintained permanent employment; (ii) became a full-time precarious worker; (iii) became a part-time precarious worker; or (iv) became unemployed in the following year (2012-2015). Suicidal ideation was assessed annually by asking participants, “Have you ever seriously thought about dying by suicide in the past year?” Logistic regression was applied to examine associations between change in employment status and suicidal ideation, adjusting for potential confounders such as lifetime suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms at baseline. Results Participants who became part-time precarious workers were more likely to have suicidal ideation [odd ratio (OR) 2.37, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.07-5.25, P=0.033] compared to those who remained permanent workers. In analysis restricted to workers who never previously thought about dying by suicide, suicidal ideation was more common among those who became either full-time (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.09-4.99, P=0.029) or part-time (OR 3.94, 95% CI 1.46-10.64, P=0.007) precarious workers. Conclusions Our findings suggest that change in employment status from permanent to precarious employment may increase suicidal ideation among workers in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-464
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea [NRF-2015S1A3A2046566]. The authors declare no financial or other relationships that may lead to conflicts with publication of this material. There was no financial support for this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.


  • Change in employment status
  • Employment status
  • Precarious employment
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Suicide
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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