A few years ago Jeremy Clarkson, the controversial Top Gear presenter, got into a lot of trouble by suggesting that all long haul truckers were serial killers. It was said in jest, and he certainly wasn’t implying that trucking turned you into a homicidal sociopath, but the bloodthirsty media went for the jugular.
I am not a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson. There is a certain nationalistic fervor that doesn’t sit with me. But I understand that this was a joke, and one that was actually rooted in truth.
As someone who has written on this subject before, I know that oversize permits and other trucking laws could be enough to drive anyone to murder. But trucking is not a gateway to murder. However, it’s fair to say that this is a career that a serial killer would aspire towards. It’s a career that involves trekking across the country, jumping state lines, gaining access to an anonymous world and to the hidden side of the United States, and being afforded the ability to kill with veritable impunity.
And the stats back that up, because there are currently “at least” 25 serial killing truck drivers in prison. And when you consider that serial killers in this profession are more likely to avoid detection, and that there are thousands of unsolved murders littering the highways of the US, then this number is likely to be much higher outside of prison.
Again though, it’s important to understand that serial killers are attracted to trucking, and not the other way around. There have been suggestions that the hours spent alone sitting in the same place is what’s driving them to murder. But that’s absurd. I’m a writer. Take away the driving and the occasional truck-stop chat with humanity, and that’s basically a description of my life. If they are driven to serial murder then I should have committed genocide by now.
All of this got me thinking though. Are there other careers that are so closely connected to major crimes and other major life events?
Doctors and Dentists = Suicide
The medical community are a depressed bunch. Some of this is understandable. For instance, vets tend to go into the job because they have a love for animals, but they soon realize that a large part of what they do involves putting beloved pets down. And then you have doctors, who get into the job because they want to help people, only to see so many of those people suffer and die needlessly.
Doctors have the highest rate of suicide, and are nearly twice as likely to kill themselves as the general public. But dentists are also high on this list, with a rate that is only slightly lower than doctors. Besides potential financial woe and difficult patients, that one is not as straightforward to explain.
Chefs, Law Enforcement, Health Care = Drug Abuse
Healthcare professionals are some of the most high risk for drug abuse. They work long hours, they deal with a lot of stress. Every doctor, surgeon and nurse is constantly dealing with the stress of endless patients, the threat of medical malpractice lawsuits, the pressure from above, and much more. They also have access to pharmaceuticals. All of this explains why as many as 15% will abuse drugs/drink at some point.
A similar stress, pressure and availability applies to those in law enforcement, although alcohol abuse is more common there, while alcoholism and drug use is also well documented in chefs. They work long hours and are under constant pressure. Anthony Boudain has documented the extent of abuse that goes on in kitchens at the highest level, but it can also be seen in the smallest of restaurants. It’s also the excuse I use to consume vast quantities of narcotics in my own kitchen. Don’t judge me – you have no idea about the sweat and tears that goes into my famous grilled cheese sandwich.
Traders, Bankers = Cheating
Some of these are obvious, including “Homemaker.” The loneliness (there it is again) the stress and the feelings of being under-appreciated, as well as the increased opportunity and desire for contact makes this one of the biggest careers for cheating.
The main one, however, is those who work in the financial sector. It seems the stereotype of the yuppie who cheats with his assistant and has little respect for his wife is based in truth. It may have something to do with the macho surroundings. It may be the high stress. It may be that they’re all like Leo in Wolf of Wall Street and they have some kind of God complex.