10,000 Suicides Linked to Recession

Photo (cc) by Jared Keener

The Great Recession took a huge financial toll. But it also cost more than 10,000 lives.

That’s according to a new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, which tied the Great Recession to 10,000 “economic suicides” in the U.S., Canada and Europe. And that appears to be a conservative estimate, CNN Money said.

“If we had an upper range, you could say … 20,000,” said David Stuckler, a sociology professor at the University of Oxford and senior author of the report.

The study found that suicide rates spiked between 2008 and 2010. The rise was four times higher among men than women.

According to Forbes, researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the primary risk factors for suicide during the recession were job loss, debt and home foreclosures. However, the study found that the bulk of the suicides occurred among those already suffering from depression. Antidepressant prescriptions also went up during the recession.

“While America was not the worst hit (that honor goes to Greece), previous research by the same team published in The Lancet in 2012 estimated that the U.S. suffered 4,750 ‘excess suicide deaths’ after the recession hit in 2008,” Forbes said.

Sweden, Austria and Finland bucked the trend. Their suicide rates remained steady during the economic downturn. According to CBS News, lead study author Aaron Reeves said this demonstrates that suicides during a recession are avoidable:

“A critical question for policy and psychiatric practice is whether suicide rises are inevitable. This study shows that rising suicides have not been observed everywhere so while recessions will continue to hurt, they don’t always cause self-harm,” Reeves explained in the news release.

“A range of interventions, from return-to-work programs through to antidepressant prescriptions, may reduce the risk of suicide during future economic downturns,” he concluded.

Are you surprised that the recession has been linked to more than 10,000 suicides? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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