Yonsei Med J.  2020 Feb;61(2):179-185. 10.3349/ymj.2020.61.2.179.

Does Emotional Labor Increase the Risk of Suicidal Ideation among Firefighters?

  • 1Departments of Biostatistics and Computing, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea. chang0343@yonsei.ac.kr
  • 3Department of Dental Hygiene, Hanyang Women's University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Institute of Occupational and Environment Medicine, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea.


To investigate whether emotional labor is associated with suicidal ideation in Korean firefighters.
Data were obtained from the Firefighter Research: Enhancement of Safety & Health (FRESH) Study, which was designed to investigate the effects of job characteristics on mental and physical health among Korean firefighters. A total of 18101 firefighters were chosen from a nationwide sample. The Korean Emotional Labor Scale (K-ELS) was used to evaluate exposure to emotional labor, which consisted of five sub-factors: emotional demand and regulation, overload and conflict in customer service, emotional disharmony and hurt, organizational surveillance and monitoring, and lack of a supportive and protective system in the organization.
Firefighters who were in the risk group were more likely to experience suicidal ideation than those in the normal group for each of the five sub-scales of emotional labor. The estimated mean values for suicidal ideation in the risk group were significantly higher than those in the normal group: 1.667 (95% CI: 1.344-2.069) for emotional demand and regulation, 1.590 (95% CI: 1.243-2.033) for overload and conflict in customer service, 2.409 (95% CI: 1.954-2.969) for emotional disharmony and hurt, 2.214 (95% CI: 1.832-2.676) for organizational surveillance and monitoring, and 1.665 (95% CI: 1.387-1.999) for lack of a supportive and protective system in the organization.
These results suggest that experience and exposure to chronic and excessive emotional labor might play a crucial role in the development of suicidal ideation among firefighters.


Emotional labor; suicidal ideation; firefighter

MeSH Terms

Suicidal Ideation*


  • Fig. 1 Recruitment process of the study subjects.


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