Wall Street firms join mental health alliance as suicide tally grows

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Following a recent spate of apparent suicides, big banks and other financial firms are being pushed to look into making cultural changes that could improve the mental health of their employees.

Eight financial professionals have reportedly taken their own lives in 2014, many in rather public ways. Six of the eight either jumped from a building or leapt in front of a train, according to the New York Post.

Wall Street is now taking notice. Nearly two-dozen firms, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, have joined the City Mental Health Alliance, a new group aimed at improving the mental well-being of financial professionals.  The group’s chairman, Peter Rodgers, told Bloomberg that Wall Street has already made a number of efforts along this vein – likely referencing the new work-life rules for junior bankers – but the initiatives “need to be accepted by a cultural change at the very top.”

Experts told the site that the hard-working culture of the banking industry could hold some blame. Suicide risk increases for those who “have not cultivated friendships, networks, outside of their company,” one expert told Bloomberg. It’s the personal networks that act as “safety valves” in times of crisis, he said.

While banks and cooperative groups do their own research, London investigators have launched coroners’ probes into two apparent suicides in the City – one involving a Deutsche Bank exec and the other a J.P. Morgan VP. The first inquest will begin today, with the other scheduled for late May.

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