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US Suicide Rates have Increased since Economic Crisis Began

Update Date: Nov 05, 2012 07:59 AM EST

In a new report published Online First in The Lancet, authors warn that the rates of suicide have increased sharply in the U.S. ever since the economic crisis took hold in 2007.

The findings published by them were a result of their analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on suicide and mortality rates from 1999 through 2010.

While the rise in the number of suicides in the U.S. was reportedly slow between the years 1999 and 2007, a sudden four-time faster suicide rate was seen between 2008 to 2010 (from an annual increase of 0.12 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people in 1997 - 2007, to 0.51 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people in 2008 - 2010).

Reportedly, each year, an additional 1,500 suicides have been seen in the U.S. since 2007 when compared to the decade before that.

The model which the authors used to analyse the data - which they recently used to estimate the effect of the recession on suicide rates in England - indicates that rising unemployment may account for around a quarter of the excess suicides observed in the U.S. since 2007, Medical Xpress reported.

"In the run-up to the US Presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery. Missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans' health during these hard times. Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis, as revealed by recent research in Spain and Greece," letter's lead author, Aaron Reeves, of the University of Cambridge, UK, said.

In spite of these findings, the authors say that countries like Sweden have successfully avoided increased rates of suicide during the economic downturn.

"The fact that countries such as Sweden have been able to prevent suicide rises despite experiencing major recessions reveals opportunities to protect Americans from further risks of suicide during the continued economic downturn. There is a clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession," the authors concluded.

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