Purpose: To investigate whether emotional labor is associated with suicidal ideation in Korean firefighters. Materials and Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.
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