The economic and emotional fallout from the great recession — job loss, plummeting stocks, disappearing pensions, and destroyed housing prices — led to more than 10,000 extra suicides across North America and Europe between 2007 and 2010, according to new research. The increase followed a decline in suicides in North America and Europe in the previous years, which researchers say suggests that some of those deaths were avoidable, reports the BBC’s James Gallagher.
The study, which was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and conducted by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found that there was a 6.5 percent increase in suicides. In the United States, the number of suicides “‘accelerated’ with the economic crisis,” while a few countries, including Austria and Finland, didn’t see their rates increase. Researchers attribute some of the strong safety net found in some nation. In Sweden, another country that didn’t see a rise in suicide numbers, there is “strong support” for those who lost their jobs or that are facing financial difficulty.
In December, federal long-term unemployment benefits in the U.S. expired, leaving 1.3 million Americans without extra aid. In the past six months, the number has tripled to 3 million, and with continued gridlock in Congress, the number will only continue to grow.
The research also shows the importance of making mental health facilities and services available. Speaking with the BBC, researcher Dr. Aaron Reeves said, "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."
According the study, men have a higher suicide risk than women, and are also less likely to seek help. While suicide attempts are as common in urban areas as they are in rural areas, the wider availability of guns in rural areas means that those attempts are more likely to end in death, reports Karen Weintraub at USA Today.