Recession led to 10,000 suicides across Europe and North America
Recession between 2008 and 2010 led to more than 10,000 suicides across Europe and North America, a new study has found.
The research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, revealed a significant rise in suicide cases after the 2007 credit crunch.
Experts from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analysed the data from the World Health Organisation about suicides in 24 EU countries, the United States and Canada.
Their analysis showed, between 2007, when the financial crisis began, and 2009, suicide rate rose to 6.5% in Europe and 4.5% in the US and this level was sustained until 2011.
However, deaths by suicide were on a decline in Canada, but there was a considerable increase when the recession took hold in 2008, leading to 240 more cases. Whereas in the US, suicide rate accelerated with the financial crisis, leading to 4,750 deaths. On the contrary, in Sweden and Finland the rate remained constant, while in Austria it actually declined.
Researchers consider job loss, home repossession and debt among the main reasons that triggered the rise in suicide numbers. Also, the increase was four times higher among men.
University of Oxford researcher Dr Aaron Reeves told the BBC: “There’s a lot of good evidence showing recessions lead to rising suicides, but what is surprising is this hasn’t happened everywhere – Austria, Sweden and Finland.”
Professor David Stuckler, also from the University of Oxford, commented: “Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. These data reveal a looming mental health crisis in Europe and North America. In these hard economic times, this research suggests it is critical to look for ways of protecting those who are likely to be hardest hit.”
It is evident from the report that most people who take their life suffer from clinical depression.
The study found prescription of antidepressants in the UK soared by 19% between 2007 and 2010.
The charity Mind reported that in 2008 the organisation saw sharp rise in number of people contacting the Mind Infoline, seeking help to resolve money, unemployment and stress queries.
Beth Murphy, of the charity Mind, said: “Redundancy and other life circumstances brought about by the recession can trigger depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for anyone, whether they have previously experienced a mental health problem or not. For some people, these factors can become so difficult to cope with that suicide may feel like the only option.”