2008 to 2010 U.K. Recession Linked to Excess Suicides

About two-fifths of the recent increase in suicide in men likely attributable to rise in unemployment

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The rise in suicides in the United Kingdom during the 2008 to 2010 recession is likely partially associated with the increase in unemployment, according to a study published online Aug. 14 in BMJ.

Ben Barr, from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a time-trend analysis comparing the actual number of suicides during the economic recession in 2008 to 2010 with the number that would have been expected based on pre-recession trends. The study included men and women with a record of death from suicide or injury of undetermined cause (2000 to 2010) from 93 English regions.

The researchers found that there were 846 more suicides among men and 155 more suicides among women during the recession than were expected based on historical trends. Historically, in men, but not women, there has been an association between short-term annual fluctuations in unemployment and yearly changes in suicides. Each 10 percent increase in the number of unemployed men correlated significantly with an estimated 1.4 percent increase in male suicides. Roughly two-fifths of the recent increase in suicides among men during the recession (329 suicides) could be attributed to the increase in unemployment.

"On its own, our study cannot ascertain whether the association between job loss and suicides is causal; however, the strength of the effect size, timing, consistency, coherence with previous research, existence of plausible mechanisms, and absence of any obvious alternative explanation suggest that it is likely to be," the authors write.

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