IN 2009, AN additional 5,000 people globally died by suicide and a new study published today has found that these deaths may be linked to the economic crash of the previous year.
There were 82 excess male suicides in Ireland and 15 female suicides in 2009. The numbers are lower than in countries like France and Germany which saw over 350 excess suicides in the same year though other European countries like Luxembourg noted a decline.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the 2008 global economic crisis could be to blame for the surge in suicide rates in both European and American countries, particularly among males and in countries with higher unemployment.
This is the first study to look at international trends in suicide and showed that there was an excess of 5,000 male suicides in all countries studied in 2009 – an increase of 3.3 per cent.
These increases were mainly seen in the 27 European countries and 18 American countries with the largest increase in Europe seen in the 15-24 year-old age bracket. There was no change in suicides in European females.
“Rises seemed to be associated with the magnitude of increases in unemployment, particularly for males and in countries with low pre-crisis unemployment levels,” the study said.
The researchers say that their findings are “likely to be an underestimate of the true global impact of the economic crisis on suicide” as data were unavailable for a number of countries.
Also, increases in suicide are “likely to be the tip of the iceberg of recession-related emotional distress: for every suicide approximately 30-40 people make suicide attempts and for every suicide attempt about ten people experience suicidal thoughts”.
The researchers concluded that “urgent action is needed to prevent the economic crisis from further increasing suicides” and that labour market programmes may “help offset the impact of recession on suicide”.
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