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US suicide rates have risen sharply since economic crisis

Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010, echoing the findings of similar research in Ireland.

SUICIDE RATES IN America have risen sharply since the economic crisis kicked in almost five years ago, according to a major study published today.

Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010.

The study found that an estimated 1,500 additional suicides have taken place in the US every year since 2007 compared to the number that would have been expected if trends from the previous decade had continued. The research is published today in The Lancet.

Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge who led the research said that the data followed trends in other countries which have been hit hard by the economic crisis.

“In the run-up to the US Presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery,” he said.

“Missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans’ health during these hard times. Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis, as revealed by recent research in Spain and Greece”.

The study also echoes similar research in Ireland which has found that suicide rates have increased as the economy has tumbled and unemployment rates have increased. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show 525 people took their own lives in Ireland in 2011, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year.

A recent study by the National Suicide Research Foundation examined almost 200 cases of suicide in Cork over three years and found that the recession has had a direct impact on suicide rates. Almost one third of suicide victims had worked in construction or related areas which have been disproportionately affected by the downturn. Almost 40 per cent of suicide victims in the study were unemployed.

The authors of the report on the US suicide rates pointed out that some countries such as Sweden have managed to avoid increased rates of suicide during the economic downturn, suggesting that some countries have been better at promoting mental health resilience during difficult times.

If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article please call Aware at 1890 303 302 or the Samaritans at 1850 60 90 90, or email

Read: Drug combination ‘shrinks’ secondary brain tumours in breast cancer patients >

Read: Sharp increase in suicide rate is linked to recession – experts >

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