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World’s Economic Crisis Tied to Increased Suicide Rates

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 09:33 AM EDT

When people commit suicide, investigators, doctors and family and friends all want to uncover the factors that forced the individual to end his or her life. Since suicide is inflicted upon oneself, finding and understanding the motives can be relatively more difficult. For years researchers have studied the act of suicide. The combination of these works has helped researchers create a list of internal and external variables that contribute to one's suicide risk. One of these factors, the financial stressor, has recently been studied. According to the researchers of this study, the global economic crisis that started in 2008 can be tied to the increased rates of suicide in Europe and in America.

"After the 2008 economic crisis, rates of suicide increased in the European and American countries studies, particularly in men and in countries with higher levels of job loss," the authors wrote reported by FOX News.

For this study, the researchers from the United Kingdom universities, Oxford and Bristol worked with researchers from Hong Kong University. Together, they examined data from 54 countries provided by the World Health Organization mortality database, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database. The researchers wanted to get a picture of how the 2008 economic crisis affected each nation. 

In 2009, the researchers calculated that there was 37 percent increase in unemployment rates with a three percent decrease in GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. Aside from the economic consequences of the crisis, the researchers also found that there was a spike in male suicide rates. During that year, there were nearly 5,000 additional suicides that were not estimated to happen. Even though the suicide rates increased in both regions of the world, the age group that it affected differed. In Europe, the age group that committed more suicides than estimated was men aged 15 to 24. In America, the rise in suicide rates was noticeable in men aged 45 to 64. The rates for women only increased slightly in America. These rates were mostly seen in 27 European nations and 18 American ones.

"A snapshot survey of calls to our branches in 2008, just before the current recession began, showed that one in 10 callers talked about financial difficulties," commented a spokesperson from Samaritans according to BBC News. "That had risen to one in six at the end of last year. Clearly this is a factor that governments need to keep in mind when planning for economic downturn."

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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