Suicide, Mental Illness Risks Increase During Recessions

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The economic recession that occurred in most countries between 2008 and 2010 led to a rise in the rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and mental illness.

Researchers from the University of Bristol, England, and colleagues examined national mortality statistics, suicide reports, and interview with people impacted by the recession, including 19 who had made suicide attempts as a result of it.

Prior to the recession, suicides rates were declining in the United Kingdom. However, during the recession, the rate started going up again, a pattern seen in other European countries and north America, the researchers reported in a PolicyBristol report. And the greatest rise in suicides was seen among young men.

David Gunnell, PhD, an epidemiology professor at the University of Bristol, noted that the consequences of the recession on some individuals, such as unemployment, financial difficulties, or reduce working hours, were likely contributors to the rise in suicide rates.

Previous research had found that those with pre-existing mental health conditions or past psychiatric illnesses are more vulnerable to difficulties caused by a recession. The Bristol researchers also found that many who died by suicide during the recession had not sought out mental health services or seen their personal physician.

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Prior to the recession that lasted from 2008 to 2010, suicides rates were actually declining in the United Kingdom.

The economic recession of 2008-2010 was followed by increases in rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and mental illness, a PolicyBristol report from a team led by academics at the University of Bristol has found.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Manchester and Oxford, the researchers from the School of Social and Community Medicine used national mortality statistics, inquest reports of people dying by suicide and interviews with people affected by the recession, including 19 who had made suicide attempts, to understand the ways in which the recession affected mental health and suicide.

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