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

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

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.