Seafarers Suicide Rate

I’ve had crappy food on a ship, but nothing to make me kill myself. Deep regret when I’m on the toilet, but not so bad I wanted to end it all.


Yeah, I don’t mean to make it sound like bad chow would make a guy want to off himself, but a person who is that far down who would consider it may have a serious deficit of important chemicals in his bodily chemistry where the proper nutrition may…and I say may…help. A lot of things we consume in processed foods over time will actually purge vital chemicals from our bodies and work against our well being and wellness. Eating properly is essential and should bear consideration.

I agree with Chief_Seadog. I was on a ship where we were allowed one beer or wine with dinner if we weren’t on watch, and if you were, the cook would keep one for you once you were relieved from watch. The crew would gather on the quarterdeck, (even ones that didn’t drink) traded sea-stories, jokes, sports and troubles, triumphs or homesickness we had back home …and sip our beverage, smoke a cig or cigar… It was a time to the crew to bond together. almost as if we were family. BBQs, swim-calls, fishing calls…
Then under new management, we were asked to be a dry ship. Since that became policy, after dinner everybody just retreated to their room after dinner, isolating themselves even more that the lonely life we have at sea.


Doesn’t help that there are so many people locked in their state rooms playing video games now either.

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Day-working engine rooms can get pretty sociable with the right guys, it’s the one place automation has gotten more people working in the same place at once in a way.


correct. It happens in Amsterdam when people urinate in the canals. Bloodpressure drops and they have a short black-out. When they fall in the the water they cannot get out and drown.

When Caltex and Regent tankers under the British flag came under Texaco management the US management were aghast at finding out the ships had a bar. The new management demanded the bars go and the officer’s responded by threatening to vote with their feet; satellite navigation was still in the future and it was difficult enough to find officers anyway. The bars stayed but only beer was allowed and the smoke room as it was called then remained the hub of shipboard life. One T2 in what had originally been the gunners mess during WWII had become the smoke room and the master ,an accomplished carpenter, had converted the space to an English country pub complete with horse brasses etc.


I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture here either. We had comraderie, but also had a fair share of fights, suicides and deaths. My first captain warned me that the life of a mariner is one of the most dangerous careers you can take, more than the dangerous nature of the work, the lifestyle you might take up.
There are many reasons for suicide. Heartbreak, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, depression, alcoholism, addiction, debt, mental health issues of all kinds, even a genetic tendency toward depression…

But that happens shoreside as well.

So what is it exactly that sets a mariner apart?

Yes we can be isolated from the outside world, but that has changed dramatically in recent years. Internet access, easy and affordable mobile international calling, being able to pay bills and do banking online if not onboard your ship, at an internet cafe.

Is it possible because we are isolated if we do need to seek help, it is so difficult to access? Not being evaluated properly?

Fear of losing your job or shame because of personal issues, addiction, counseling/therapy, needing a medication to treat depression or mental illness?

During physicals it seems all they really care about is a clean drug-screen, back injuries, high-cholesterol and high blood pressure so you don’t stroke-out at the age of 50.

I’m just throwing some thought-provoking ideas out there.

I’ve heard several people say this: you guys are online, you shouldn’t be isolated. This one cuts twice: people onshore expect more from us than they used to. They assume that we are online with the same reliability, bandwidth, privacy and data package that they are. Second cut: when has the Internet made people feel less isolated?

It makes a world of difference that you can face-time or skype your family of girlfriend when you have internet. Now many ships have internet, or just about any port you can make an international video-call just by pulling your smartphone out of your pocket.

They used to say “send me a postcard!” like its no big deal, but mailing a postcard from overseas is a real pain and the people back home never appreciate it as much as they should. Do they ever write you back? Hardly ever…
Remember the days of going to the Seamen’s Club and buying a phone card and paying $6 a minute to call home? Or making a phone call on the radio with the marine operator?

What people expect of you onshore or stateside? Well very few people understand a mariner’s life. It’s always been like this.

Anyhow back on topic.
Differences of mariner-life and shoreside life that makes suicide rate dramatically higher?

Here is the suicide rate for mariners: .

The suicide rate was estimated at 1.3 per 100,000.

Here is for the general population:

suicide rate of 11.4 per 100,000 population

Here is the source, Misquoted does any one have better or later data?

Suicide rates among seafarers have more than tripled since 2014 and are now the most common cause of death at sea, according to figures from the UK P&I Club. Crew deaths attributed to suicide have increased from 4.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 15.3 percent in 2015-2016.

Maybe they are killing themselves out of frustration from reading this thread.

The spokesman (UK P&I) also confirmed that it has “no current evidence to show an increase in suicide rates” since 2015.


ISWAN and the SCI have hard numbers, as well as flag states on the increase. This thread is to try and bring this to the surface, to bring awareness. The first line of defense starts onboard the vessels, and for people to identify the signs of someone having mental health issues. I understand that no industry is perfect, but some people care about the industry and the men and women whom work at sea.