Career Happiness and Mental Health

70% of the suicides in this country are committed by middle aged men. I was stunned by that percentage. I then recalled that the first suicide that touched me was of a soccer teammate’s father.  By all accounts, he was a great guy with a happy family. But this was the 1980s when not having a job was stigmatizing for all men but particularly middle aged men supporting families.  I don’t know the circumstances of his layoff.  But he was unemployed for 9 months, I almost can’t believe it wasn’t longer?  He sank into a depression and couldn’t pull himself out of it. I would like to think that being laid off does not have the stigma of the past. But I also know that some percentage of those suicidal middle aged men never would have contemplated something drastic if they were engaged in a meaningful career.
With General Electric’s Connecticut turmoil, I have had a fair share of career counseling sessions with middle aged career company men who mask their anxiety with dark humor – “my family would be better off if they get my life insurance”- seems to be the most common line. The worry today for most fiftysomethings is that they will never get hired again. Sadly, they may be right if they have limited themselves to getting hired only for high paying salaried full time jobs with benefits. But there is plenty of work out there and with the right understanding of the market, they will work again as many of my career counseling clients have happily discovered.
If you know anyone who might be prone to depression due to a work lay off, pay careful attention.  Get them the help they need.