Poor Economy Linked to Suicides

Suicide rate has increased since US economic recession began

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As Europeans have struggled with their economic crisis, suicides on that continent have been increasing. Unfortunately, the same has been true here in the US.

A recent study found that the suicide rate has increased considerably since 2008. Researchers believe the economic crisis has played a part in the increase.

"There is a clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession," the authors wrote.

"Suicide is never the answer. Call 1-800-273-TALK for help."

Lead author Aaron Reeves, a doctoral candidate from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed suicide rates from 1999 through 2010 from the data at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They found a steady but slow increase in suicides from 1999 to 2007. The rate went up by 1.2 death per one million people each year during those years.

However, the rate increased more than four times between 2008 and 2010, with an additional 5.1 deaths per one million people each year.

This difference equates to 1,580 more people taking their own lives since 2007, compared to what the total would have been if the 1999-2007 suicide rate had remained steady in 2008 and beyond.

It seems that job losses account for some, but not all, of the increase.

Based on their calculations and using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers believe about 25 percent of these additional suicides since 2007 were linked to unemployment.

These statistics are similar to what the researchers have found in Europe, where Greece's suicides, for example, have increased 60 percent since 2007.

The authors noted that not all countries in Europe saw increases in suicide. The rates in Sweden remained steady, which may mean they have better prevention programs in place.

The study was published November 5 in The Lancet. The authors did not report external funding and reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 6, 2012
Last Updated:
November 11, 2012