UK recession may be to blame for over 1,000 suicides in England

August 14, 2012

A paper published in the British Medical Journal today suggests that over 1000 people have committed suicide due to the 2008-2010 economic recession in the UK (846 men and 155 women).

Suicides began to rise in the UK in 2008 following 20 years of decline - suicides rose 8% among men and 9% among women in 2008, compared to 2007. And even though suicides did begin to fall in 2010 figures were still above the 2007 averages.

Previous studies have concluded that unemployment does increase the risk of and non-fatal self-harm but while suicides tend to increase during economic downturns, the strength of this association varies from country to country.

Authors therefore from the University of Liverpool, University of Cambridge and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tested the that the UK regions experiencing the greatest rises in unemployment have seen the largest increase in suicides.

They took data on suicides from the National Clinical and Database (NCHOD) covering the years 2000 – 2010 where data was available for 93 regions, and unemployment statistics were taken from the number of people claiming benefits from the Office of National Statistics.

The authors calculated the number of excess suicides attributable to the financial crisis by looking at the total number which were over and above historical trends.

They 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% increase in the number of unemployed was associated with a 1.4% increase in the number of male suicides.

The number of unemployed men rose on average across the UK's regions by 25.6% each year in 2008 – 2010 which was associated with a yearly increase in male suicides of 3.6%, corresponding to 329 additional suicides, attributable to unemployment, between 2008 and 2010.

The authors say that the study cannot prove that the association between job losses and suicides is causal yet these findings can explain why there was a small reduction in suicides in 2010, following a slight recovery in male employment.

The authors say that the analysis has several implications for those seeking to protect the most vulnerable in the ongoing and "although the initial economic shock of the recession does increase suicide risk, policies that promote re-employment may reverse this trend". They conclude with a suggestion of further research 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 will outweigh the purported benefits of budget cuts".

Explore further: UK suicide, homicide rates in mental health patients revealed

Related Stories

UK suicide, homicide rates in mental health patients revealed

July 19, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Suicide rates among people with mental illness in England and Wales have fallen over the last decade, latest figures show.

Fall in deaths involving painkiller co-proxamol after drug withdrawn in UK

May 8, 2012
During the six years following the withdrawal of the analgesic co-proxamol in the UK in 2005, there was a major reduction in poisoning deaths involving this drug, without apparent significant increase in deaths involving ...

US Army suicides rose 80 percent between 2004 and 2008

March 7, 2012
Suicides among US army personnel rose 80 per cent between 2004 and 2008, finds research by US Army Public Health Command and published online in Injury Prevention.

Recommended for you

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

New therapy can help schizophrenia sufferers re-engage socially

December 11, 2017
A new therapy aimed at helping young people suffering from schizophrenia to reconnect and engage with the world around them has had promising results, according to a new University of Sussex-led study.

Certain books can increase infant learning during shared reading, study shows

December 11, 2017
Parents and pediatricians know that reading to infants is a good thing, but new research shows reading books that clearly name and label people and objects is even better.

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

Many different types of anxiety and depression exist, new study finds

December 8, 2017
Five new categories of mental illness that cut across the current more broad diagnoses of anxiety and depression have been identified by researchers in a Stanford-led study.

Study sheds light on the voices in our head

December 8, 2017
New research showing that talking to ourselves in our heads may be the same as speaking our thoughts out loud could help explain why people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia hear voices.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.