Teachers in the UK have a 40% higher risk of suicide than other professions research has shown. Retired primary head and researcher John Illingworth has written to teachersolidarity about teacher stress and is interested to hear how this problem and in particular suicide amongst teachers - is manifested in the rest of the world. John writes:
"In the UK there is evidence that teacher suicides are increasing. Suicide is the tragic extreme of a much larger problem of depressive illness amongst our teachers. Thousands of UK teachers leave the profession each year because of such illness which is often work-related. Reports of such suicides often cite the UK's harsh accountability systems as a factor. In particular, OFSTED (The UK school inspection system) has been identified.
"UK teachers are about 40% more likely to commit suicide than the average for all other occupations. I have recently discovered that in Denmark teachers are less likely to commit suicide than average. I'm interested in finding out more about why these differences may exist.
"I would very much appreciate help in two areas.
1. How do teacher suicide statistics compare with the average for all occupations in your country?
2. What teacher accountability systems do you have? (Inspection, national testing programmes, publication of school performance tables, performance management systems, press and media vilification of teachers, etc.)
"Even if you can only provide information i n relation to one of these questions it would still be very helpful. I may be able to find other information elsewhere.
"If you are interested in finding out more about my work in promoting teacher mental health in the UK please visit www.teachermentalhealth.org.uk