45,000 Suicides A Year Linked To Unemployment

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A new study published in The Lancet has revealed that one of every five suicides worldwide is associated with unemployment. There have also been nearly 5,000 excess suicides since the economic crisis of 2008.

It’s probably safe to say that not too many people were thrilled with the 2008 recession; it’s led to high rates of unemployment, underemployment and suicide, and its effects are still being felt seven years later. But the study’s authors wondered whether the Great Recession could be specifically pinpointed as the major factor in unemployment-related suicides. Therefore, the study, funded by the University of Zurich, analyzed data on deaths from 63 different countries over the period from 2000 to 2011 in an attempt to see if the 2008 recession had had any effect on the suicide rate.

“Unemployment directly affects individuals’ health and, unsurprisingly, studies have proposed an association between unemployment and suicide,” wrote the authors of the study. “However, a statistical model examining the relationship between unemployment and suicide by considering specific time trends among age-sex-country subgroups over wider world regions is still lacking. We aimed to enhance knowledge of the specific effect of unemployment on suicide by analyzing global public data classified according to world regions.”

The team used data provided by the World Health Organization to examine approximately 233,000 suicides per year and found that 45,000 (20 percent) of them were linked to unemployment. But is this in any way related to the 2008 recession? It appears that it may be: In 2007, 41,148 suicides were associated with unemployment, but in 2009, that number rose to 46,131. That’s an increase of 4,983 suicides in the year after the global economic crisis occurred.

The study’s authors emphasize the importance of suicide prevention at all times, writing, “Prevention strategies focused on the unemployed and on employment and its conditions are necessary not only in difficult times but also in times of stable economy.”