Work Stress – At what point would you quit?


As much as I hate to drag the mood down on a Friday, I’ve been reading a couple of stories about work place stress this morning that really saddened me. Both stories involved a rise in workers committing suicide due to work related stress. One story on CNN focused on a recently highlighted rise in work stress related suicides within the banking industry and the other looked at an investigation being undertaken by French mobile telecoms giant Orange after they noticed a sharp rise in stress related workplace suicides.

As I was reading these articles I did start to wonder just what could cause a person to make such a sad decision, rather than quitting their job?

What has caused this increased stress?

The orange article wasn’t just focusing on an isolated problem within one individual company but more on the increased stress being felt by the global workforce as a whole. As I’ve been self-employed for quite a long time now, increased stress in the workplace environment isn’t really something I’m familiar with, so I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of what kind of pressures would cause a person to resort to such sad measures. Perhaps company cutbacks during the recession have heaped a greater workload onto the remaining workforce, a workload they are simply unable to cope with? Is the fast moving and changing nature of our modern world simply proving too much for some people to cope with? Whatever it is, the fact that companies are noticing the increase and investigating it – or are being pressured to investigate it – shows that the problem is real and pressing. What about you, have you noticed the stress levels increasing in your own work environment?

At what point would you quit your job?

What I again find really difficult to understand about these sad events is that people would decide to take their own life rather than to quit their job. I’m no psychologist and I am in no way equipped to understand the complex mental issues that would lead someone to such a decision, so again I can only assume. Perhaps the lack of jobs in the current economy made the person feel that they simply had no option but to stay in a job they hated so much that it was breaking them mentally. Or maybe they were too afraid to voice their feelings because they were scared of being viewed as an employee with a lack of appreciation or work ethic, leading to them becoming overwhelmed by the situation.

Whatever the reasons are, it does raise an extremely important question for anyone who is truly struggling with work stress. At what point would you make the tough decision to quit your job to avoid becoming overwhelmed? There is so much pressure put on people today to behave as though they are invincible, as though they can cope with anything. The sad reality is that we simply cannot cope with anything, we all have our limits and admitting them should be considered as a sign of strength, not as a sign of weakness by both ourselves and others. Even if you don’t rush out and quit your job, perhaps just finding the strength to talk about your problems either with your employer or with a qualified professional could be a great help in reducing your stress, it could even turn out to be a life saver.

There is always a better way

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself become so overwhelmed by work stress that you start to think that taking your own life is the only way out. If you start to have these thoughts or feelings then it is vital that you take some kind of action to relieve the stress, be it by learning how to cope with the stress, taking a short break, or perhaps changing your job completely if necessary. I know it may seem daunting to have to take these measures but it is surely better than the alternative.

12 Responses to Work Stress – At what point would you quit?

  1. Whenever I think that I’m so stressed out with my work, I take a short break, like going out to go jogging, playing with my daughter or trying to listen a relaxing music. You can do this for about 30 minutes and I’m sure it’s like that you’ve been recharged.

    • Adam Buller says:

      It’s amazing what a 30 minute break can do isn’t it Clarisse! Glad you’re managing to keep a level head.

  2. I had the experience of having a bad boss from my past follow me to a new job, in a new city.
    Working with this person really began to affect my mental health.
    I gave it a few months until I decided that it was in my best interest to pursue new opportunities.
    Do what you love, and when you don’t, find something else.

  3. I used to be employed by a large corporation but in my last two years with the company, I suffered from unexplained health issues. Tests would reveal nothing wrong until one doctor told me I was suffering from something called psychosomatic syndrome. Psychoso- what? Apparently, mine was stress-related because what I handled at work involved a lot of STRESS and beyond. I quit that job and now work as a home-based freelancer. The money isn’t as great but trust me when I say I am happier. I even get to spend more time with my children.

    • Adam Buller says:

      At least you were able to face up to the problem and make that tough decision before reaching such a sad point. Glad things have worked out for you Jen.

  4. If the stress was starting to affect my health, and there was no end in sight to the stress (sometimes my job has short bursts of high stress), then it’s definitely time to quit. BUT, I’d never quit a job until I had another job lined up to take it’s place.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Great advice Brock. I’d guess that if you at least know that a change will come when you do find a new job then that should relieve the stress levels to a degree anyway.

  5. WOW, that’s so sad. I don’t wonder though if there’s a correlation between these suicides and the peoples’ personal finance situations, like lots of debt that is forcing them to stay at their jobs. If Rick ever got to the point where he hated his job that bad, we’d find a way to get him out of there; whatever it took.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Yes I wondered if there was a link there too Laurie, or even just their own personal situation with things unrelated to finance. I hope that the companies find out what has been causing the problem when they look into things.

  6. suzie says:

    I can totally understand why this happens. The last 13 months of my life have been very stressful. Starting in Jan ’13 my company was bought out and brought in new management who decided to fire a lot of people, remodel the building forcing co-workers to share space or work in a trailer in the parking lot for 6 months. I had to share space with a group of security guards. My workspace was the size of my keyboard and monitor until I was finally laid-off in September In the meantime personally I was dealing with the sudden illness, hospitalization and death of my mother-in-law within 3 months, followed by the sudden hospitalization of my father (he died in February after dealing with Alzheimer’s for several years). Oh and my husband was rushed to the hospital last month with a ruptured gall bladder. So yes I can understand when you have a mountain of medical bills to pay, you are over 50 and can’t find a job, and you’ve had to deal with family stress you are overwhelmed and can’t figure a way out. Fortunately I have some wonderful people supporting us emotionally. I’m one of the lucky ones.

  7. Kimberly says:

    Great article! I SO needed to hear that right now. How’s THIS for stress: I work in a family business. Recently, I went for some counseling and discovered my Myers-Briggs AND DISC personality as well as the Strong Interest Survey and aptitude tests. Turns out I’m not only underemployed, I’m also in the wrong job. No chance for advancement & feeling really stuck.

    I’ve been doing some freelance writing on the side which has saved my sanity.

    I feel like I can’t stay and I can’t leave. Did I mention that I’m a partial owner but not treated like one?

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