A new study from University of Iowa has shown that summer jobs can greatly reduce suicidal behaviour in at-risk teens by creating self-esteem.
According to Rob Baller, associate professor of sociology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, summer employment is more of a deterrent than holding a job during the school year, attending church, participating in sports.
"Summer employment is thought to be beneficial because it creates self-esteem while reducing isolation and substance abuse, and it does not conflict with school work in the way a job during the school year could," said Baller.
When a friend of a friend attempts suicide, at-risk teens are more likely to seriously consider doing so.
The study showed that working a paid summer job 20 or more hours a week creates immunity against the friend-to-friend diffusion of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
At-risk teens who are 16 or younger can work just 10 hours a week in the summer to reap the same benefit.
However, the unemployment rates for teens have continued to climb throughout the economic downturn.
"If unemployment continues to rise, teens may have a tough time finding jobs this summer," said Kelly Richardson, co-author of the study and a data analyst at the Iowa City VA Medical Centre.
"Possible solutions could include working for pay within the family or for a friend of the family," she added.
The study will be published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.