A report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has stated that the global economic crisis has been the direct cause of an extra ten thousand suicides across Europe, the US and Canada.
Leading up to the crash of 2007, suicide rates had been in a steady decline in Europe but by 2009 there was a 6.5% increase which was sustained until 2011. Whilst suicide was already on the rise in the US before the global recession, this rise was significantly accelerated from 2007 onwards, leading to 4,750 additional suicides.
It comes as no surprise, perhaps, that home repossession and debt were identified as key risk factors leading to suicide. Some countries suicide rates remained unaffected by the recession, however, with Sweden, Finland and Austria seeing no rise suicide since 2007, so what are these countries doing differently?
Dr Aaron Reeves from the University of Oxford, one of the researchers on the report, told the BBC:
“One of the features of these countries is they invest in schemes that help people return to work, such as training, advice and even subsidised wages.
“There are always hard choices to make in a recession, but for me one of the things government does is provide support and protection for vulnerable groups – these services help people who are bearing the brunt of an economic crisis.”
This inconsistency in suicide trends across the countries within the study also shows that a rise in suicide rates in times of economic downturn isn’t inevitable, but that proper government policy and easily accessible mental health services can have a positive impact on suicide rates.
It may come as no surprise to many of us that unemployment and debt are closely linked to mental health issues and suicide, but what this report highlights is the need for funding and resources for suicide prevention, risk identification and primary care for those in need, because until there is more government investment in mental health services, and suicide prevention in this country, the tragedy will remain.
Source: BBC Online article here