Lawyer Wellness

Lawyers are twice as likely to have thoughts of suicide, new study finds

  • Print.

stressed lawyer with gavel

Image from Shutterstock.

A recent study of California and Washington, D.C., lawyers found that lawyers are twice as likely as the general population to experience suicidal ideation.

The study is based on a sample of 1,962 lawyers and detailed in Stressed, Lonely and Overcommitted: Predictors of Lawyer Suicide Risk.

The study was published Feb. 11 by MDPI, an open-access publishing group. The California Lawyers Association and the D.C. Bar participated in the project. A Feb. 13 news release is here.

The study also found that men who felt socially isolated had a history of mental health problems and were overly committed at work have the highest risk of suicide.

According to the study, 8.5% of respondents reported having thoughts that they’d “be better off dead.” By gender, 9.1% of men experienced suicidal ideation, compared to 7.8% of women. The group was surveyed in 2020.

Another category focused on hours worked. From that group, 14.7% of respondents who worked between 61 and 70 hours per week had the highest percentage of suicidal ideation.

Also, the study found that lawyers who endorsed suicidality tended to be younger. For respondents age 30 or younger, 14.3% were placed in the suicidal ideation category. That was the highest out of the age groups, followed by 10.6% in the 31 to 40 age group.

Patrick Krill, an attorney who is also a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug counselor and the owner of Krill Strategies, was one of the study authors.

“The legal profession has known that lawyers are disproportionately predisposed to suicidal thoughts, but we’ve been largely relying on assumptions and anecdotes to understand why. With this research, however, we now have the beginnings of a data-driven formula for successfully mitigating risk and ultimately saving lives,” Krill said in the news release.


Directory of Lawyer Assistance Programs

ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.