Great Recession Linked to More than 10,000 Suicides
When the economy takes a downward turn, many people suffer. Several studies have examined the effects of a recession on people's overall well being. In a new study, researchers reported that the Great Recession, which started in 2007, could be tied to more than 10,000 suicides in North America and Europe.
For this study, the team composed of researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reviewed data taken from 24 nations under the European Union, the United States and Canada. The numbers revealed that in Europe, the suicide rates were declining until 2007. From 2007 to 2009, the rates increased by 6.5 percent, or 7,950 more suicides. The elevated levels remained until 2011. The team found a similar trend in Canada as well where the number of suicides increased by 240 cases after 2008.
In the U.S., the suicide rate was already increasing at the time. However, at the start of the Great Recession, the researchers found that the rate accelerated significantly. The number of suicides increased rapidly with an extra 4,750 deaths. The researchers concluded that even though they found a link between economic crisis and suicide rates, they ultimately did not find that one factor caused the other. However, the team reasoned that certain variables, such as losing one's job or a lack of financial means could place a lot of stress on individuals. When this type of stress becomes hard to maintain, people's suicide risk could increase. The researchers added that certain nations, such as Sweden, Finland and Austria all managed to keep their suicide rates down during the recession.
"A critical question for policy and psychiatric practice is whether suicide rises are inevitable," researcher Dr. Aaron Reeves, from the University of Oxford, said, according to BBC News. "There's a lot of good evidence showing recessions lead to rising suicides, but what is surprising is this hasn't happened everywhere - Austria, Sweden and Finland. It shows policy potentially matters. One of the features of these countries is they invest in schemes that help people return to work, such as training, advice and even subsidized wages."
Dr. Reeves added that one thing governments could do better during a recession is to offer better support to the most vulnerable groups of people. Other experts stated that in order to prevent suicide rates from rising, better preventive measures and screening tactics need to be enforced.
The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.