Suicide increases with global economic crisis


The 2008 global economic crisis may be at the center of the rise in suicide rates across the Americas and Europe.

This is according to new research culled from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook databases.

Beginning of economic crisis and rise in suicide rates

In 2009, there was a 37 percent rise in unemployment and a 3 percent decrease in GDP per capita. This marks the onset of economic crisis. This year, male suicide rates increased overall by 3.3 percent. That was the highest in 18 American countries studied, showing a 6.4 percent rate increase while most of Europe showed a 4.2 percent increase. There was no change in female suicide in 2009 in Europe, but a 2.3 percent rate increase in the Americas. The United States and Canada had a 8.9 percent rate increase in suicide that same year.

“We found a clear rise in suicide after the 2008 global economic crisis," study authors explained. "There were about 4,900 excess suicides in the year 2009 alone, compared with those expected based on previous trends (2000 through 2007). There were important differences in men and women as well as in the age pattern in different groups of countries."

Non-fatal suicide attempts could be 40 times more common than suicide and even more people are considering suicide.

Interventions needed

An active labor market program, an intervention that aims to get the unemployed back to work, can help.

“Such measures may be usefully targeted on high risk groups, for example young men in Europe,” said Professor Shu-Sen Chang, research assistant professor at the HKCJ Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong.

Chang added that budget cuts affecting the most vulnerable should be avoided. “There should be adequate support for people with depression, regardless of the cause of depression, and people with mental illness in general," he said. "In time of recessions, cuts in social and health care may affect people who need or are receiving such care, including people with depression, the most."

Sources: MedicalNewsToday, BMJ


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