Friday, June 19, 2015

Wall Street Suicides


"[T]he string of deaths on Wall Street appears to rise above the level of simple coincidence. Last February, Fortune ran an article titled: “Is there a suicide contagion on Wall Street?"
Studies have suggested that financial service employees are at higher risk than those in many other industries. According to the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance, individuals who work in financial services are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the national average. The highest suicide rates in the United States are among doctors, dentists and veterinarians.
It is possible that the finance industry attracts more people with depression, just as it is possible that the pressure-cooker work environment overwhelms some people who have been high achievers their entire lives. It could be a tragic combination of multiple factors. Wall Street has always thrived, in part, on its eat-or-be-eaten culture. Would curbing its competitive nature cut into its success?
Most top Wall Street firms have sought to change their work policies for young investment bankers in recent years, in part to combat some of the problems and because they are increasingly in heated competition with Silicon Valley for top talent and are seeking to make themselves more attractive.
Goldman, for example, has required that analysts take Saturdays off. Credit Suisse, too, has made employees take Saturdays off, with employees instructed to avoid even email. Bank of America has instituted a policy that requires analysts to “take four days off a month” on the weekends. And JPMorgan Chase has said that one weekend a month should be protected.
Many of those steps were taken after a 21-year-old intern died at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s London office in summer 2013 after reports indicated he had pulled three consecutive all-nighters. The official cause of death was epilepsy."

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