A recent report on suicide mortalities by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests men in fields associated with construction and extraction represent the line of work with the highest rate of deaths by suicide. 

The rankings of suicide rates for 2012 and 2015 reflect a shocking rise in people taking their own lives in various occupations. While the report can't explain the numbers, it can at least provide a focus for putting better prevention strategies in place.  

During the first 16 years of this century, suicide rates in the US climbed steadily from 12.9 to 17.3 for every 100,000 people. That's a jump of more than a third.

It's an alarming trend, and no single factor seems to be responsible. Changes in economic security can go some way to explain the figures, as can social isolation and other forms of psychological stress.

Substance abuse has also been implicated in some cases, as has declining mental health. But the issue of suicide is evidently too complex for a simple, one-size-fits-all solution.

Instead of looking for general responses to this pressing problem, the CDC suggests we turn the focus to identifying who is most at risk, and putting individualised strategies in place.

"Increasing suicide rates in the US are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce," says Deb Houry, the director of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

"Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts."

The majority of adults spend most of their waking hours in a workplace environment, it would make sense to have a better understanding of how our career might influence our risk of suicide.

To date, most occupational programs have provided resources for early detection and intervention procedures.

"However, more research on the role of the workplace in primary suicide prevention is needed, including improving working conditions and reducing stress," write the report's authors.

The figures are based on data taken from the 2012 and 2015 National Violent Death Reporting System results, covering more than 22,000 Americans aged between 16 and 64 in 17 states.

In 2015, more than 1,400 male construction and extraction workers died as a result of suicide. That's a startling rate of 53.2 workers per 100,000, up from 43.6 in 2012, making it the hardest hit occupational group by far.

The next biggest was in arts, entertainment, sports, and media, which also saw close to a 50 percent jump between 2012 and 2015 – moving from 26.9 to 39.7 per 100,000 working men.

That same occupational group represented the highest rate of suicides for women, with 11.7 per 100,000 in 2012 and 15.6 in 2015. Jobs in protective services and in healthcare support were also highly ranked.

The most dramatic rise for women was found in food preparation and serving, with a 54 percent increase of 6.1 up to 9.4.

At the other end of the scale, jobs in education systems and in libraries represented some of the lowest suicide rates for both men and women.

Thankfully, there were also signs of a drop in suicide rates in some occupational fields. For men involved in jobs related to farming and ranching, for example, the numbers fell from 44.9 to 32.2 – still high, but at least a trend in the right direction.

Women who worked in legal professions also saw a drop of around 17 percent, from 11.1 to 9.2.

Literally tens of thousands of people across the US took their own lives in 2016, putting it among the top ten leading causes of death. More than half of them didn't have a diagnosed mental health condition, adding to the complexity of the issue.

There's no easy fix. But reaching those who could benefit most is one big step towards tackling this crisis.

If this story has raised concerns or you need to talk to someone, here's a list where you may be able to find a crisis hotline in your country.