Recession blamed for 1000 British suicides

Aug 15, 2012
Anna McKie

A study has found that the financial crisis reversed a downward trend in the number of suicides

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BRITAIN'S double-dip recession might have driven more than 1,000 people to suicide, according to a recent study.

The researchers who wrote the paper, published in the British Medical Journal, noticed that in the 20 years before the economic crisis, Britain's suicide rate had been steadily declining. But in 2008, when the financial crisis hit, there was an eight per cent rise in the number of men who killed themselves and a nine per cent increase in the number of female suicides.

Analysts also noted a sharp increase in the number of suicides in European countries worst hit by the recession, such as Greece and Ireland.

The study, produced by academics from Liverpool University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has confirmed the long held belief that economic factors affect national suicide rates, reports The Guardian.

The researchers looked at suicide records in the 93 UK regions held by the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database and also examined the numbers of unemployed people claiming benefits.

They found that for every annual 10 per cent increase in unemployment there was a 1.4 per cent increase in suicides and that when employment rates rose briefly in 2010, the suicide rate dropped.

The study also analysed the pre-recession suicide trend and discovered that, had it continued on its downward trajectory, 846 fewer male and 155 fewer female suicides would have occurred between 2008 and 2010.

Ben Barr, researcher at Liverpool University and one of the study's authors, said that unemployment, financial worries, debt and housing issues were all contributing factors to the rise. "In some areas, where cuts are occurring, they are affecting services that might help mitigate the effects of job loss on mental health," Barr said.

Unemployment statistics released today have offered a glimmer of hope as figures fell to the lowest seen in nearly a year.

The jobless total fell by 46,000 to 2.56 million in the three months to the end of June, despite economists' expectations it would rise.

However, The Independent notes, the relief could be temporary because these unemployment figures have had a boost from the Olympics.

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