A new study suggests the more than 1,000 people in the United Kingdom have committed suicide due to the ongoing economic recession.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool, University of Cambridge, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine noted that suicides began to rise in the UK in 2008 following 20 years of decline.
They report that suicides rose 8 percent among men and 9 percent among women in 2008, compared to 2007. And while the number of suicides began to fall in 2010, they were still above the 2007 averages, the researchers said.
Previous studies concluded that unemployment increases the risk of suicide and non-fatal self-harm, according to the researchers, who decided to test their hypothesis that the UK regions experiencing the greatest unemployment would see the largest increase in suicides.
They took data on suicides from the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database (NCHOD) covering the years 2000 to 2010 where statistics were available for 93 regions. Unemployment statistics were taken from the number of people claiming benefits from the Office of National Statistics.
The researchers then calculated the number of “excess” suicides attributable to the financial crisis by looking at the number that was over and above historical trends. The researchers did not specifically examine each “excess” suicide and determine it’s actual cause.
This led to their estimate that 846 more male suicides and 155 more female suicides took place between 2008 to 2010 than would have been expected if previous trends had continued.
Between 2000 and 2010, each annual 10 percent increase in the number of unemployed was associated with a 1.4 percent increase in the number of male suicides, the scientists report.
The number of unemployed men rose on average across the UK by 25.6 percent each year between 2008 and 2010, which was associated with a yearly increase in male suicides of 3.6 percent. This led the researchers to attribute 329 additional suicides to unemployment between 2008 and 2010.
The researchers acknowledge that the study cannot prove cause and effect between job losses and suicide, but do say their findings can explain why there was a small reduction in suicides in 2010, following a slight recovery in male employment.
The analysis has several implications for those seeking to protect the most vulnerable in the ongoing economic recession, according to the researchers.
“Although the initial economic shock of the recession does increase suicide risk, policies that promote re-employment may reverse this trend,” they said in the study, which was published the British Medical Journal.
The researchers conclude by suggesting additional research is necessary to “understand the reasons why suicides have risen recently among women, given the absence of an association with their employment” and that the pressing issues of unemployment and the economic recovery poses a danger that “the human cost of continued high levels of unemployment will outweigh the purported benefits of budget cuts.”
Source: British Medical Journal