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Suicide rate soars at sea

Suicide is now the biggest cause of death at sea, according to an article posted by the UK Chamber of Shipping.

Citing statistics from the UK P&I Club, the report showed suicides have increased from 4.4% in 2014-2015 of all crew deaths to 15.3% in 2015-2016. Cadets are most at risk according to data collated by the P&I club.

“Despite such high suicide rates within the industry, seafarers’ mental wellbeing is still seen as a taboo subject and a poorly discussed issue. Due to machismo cultures, high levels of prejudice and poor mental health education, crew are not always likely to seek counselling or professional support, and this often leads to serious consequences,” Sophia Bullard, director of the UK P&I Club’s crew health programme, told the UK Chamber.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Would be nice to know if there is a rise in actual numbers, or if this is due to fewer deaths from other causes.

  2. Sad indeed and alarming. There should not be any new or major changes onboard (less crew is a fact and some ships with or without internet but they cannot be the root cause alone in my humble opinion) which would suggest the sad statistics. I guess it would be important to create better measures, screening and testing before one is allowed to join the vessel. We have better tools today to smoothly get at least indication about characters and stress coping factors. Some emotional intelligence and compassion education would be needed for the salty sailors onboard. There are usually early signals which we can detect when we know what to look for onboard and ashore. Hope we will sort this our sooner than later!

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