In what could be termed as the biggest repercussion of the 2008 financial crunch across Europe and Americas, a new study blames the 2008 meltdown for the rise in suicide rates in both the continents.
Earlier studies linked increased risk of depression and anxiety during times of economic crisis. Increases in suicide rates were also observed during previous recessions like the Great Depression.
The researchers carried study involving 54 countries. The scientists included data from the World Health Organization (WHO) mortality database, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database.
The participants were grouped into various age groups: 15-24 (representing the newly employed), 25-44 (early career), 45-64 (late career) and 65+ (post-retirement).
Using the existing data, researchers came up with a baseline figure for how many suicides should have been expected in 2009.
Unemployment levels were used to measure the impact of the financial crisis. The International Labor Organization 2008 figures said that by 2009, 212 million people would be unemployed.
The researchers found a 37 percent increase in unemployment and a 3 percent fall in GDP per capita in 2008. Unemployment rates rose in Europe between 2009 and 2010, and dramatically rose during the same period in the U.S. and Canada.
It was found that there was a 3.3 percent increase in the suicide rate of male in 2009 from the baseline estimate. The figures witnessed an additional 5,000 suicides per country studied. The increased rates were determined to be linked to unemployment increases in the countries, and were especially observed in countries with pre-existing low unemployment levels.
There was no change in female European suicide rates and only a small increase was observed among women living in the Americas.
“Men are more likely to be the main earner in the family and thus more affected by the recession than women. They might experience a greater degree of shame in the face of unemployment and are less likely to seek help,” the researchers wrote.
- Approximately 30 to 40 more people attempted to kill themselves. For every attempted suicide, there were 10 others who had suicidal thoughts.
- The top 27 European countries affected by suicide saw a 4.2 percent increase in their rates among males. New European Union member states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Solvenia) had a 13.3 percent increase in male suicide rates.
- The top 18 North and South American countries saw a 6.4 percent increase in their male numbers. The U.S. and Canada each saw an 8.9 percent increase in male suicide rates.
- The men in the age group 15 to 24 were most likely to commit suicide in Europe. Contrary to this, 45 to 64 year old men were most likely to kill themselves in Americas.
The study was published in BMJ.