A new study says that job loss, financial crisis, dipping home values and stock market crash of the Great Recession led to an increase in suicide rates.
Between 2007 and 2010, at least 10,000 more Americans and Europeans died of suicide than during the booming economic times of the previous few years.
AdvertisementIn view of the fact that the rise in suicide rates was much higher than anticipated and there were substantial variations in suicide rates across countries, the researchers believe some of the suicides were "potentially avoidable."
"It's a fairly large and substantial increase over what we would have expected," said Aaron Reeves, the research lead and a sociologist and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford in England. "They are, broadly speaking, large mental health implications of the economic crisis that are still being felt by many people."
In Canada, between 2007 and 2010, the suicide rate increased by 4.5 percent or about 240 suicides more than estimated. In the U.S.A, the rate rose by 4.8 percent over the same time period.
In Europe, before 2007, suicide rates had been dropping, but by 2009, there was an upward trend in suicide rates. The rates rose by 6.5 percent and the trend continued through 2011.
"Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. These data reveal a looming mental health crisis in Europe and North America. In these hard economic times, this research suggests it is critical to look for ways of protecting those who are likely to be hardest hit," study co-author Prof. David Stuckler of Oxford said in a release.
Reeves advocates three methods that may be helpful during economic downturns. They are effective treatment for clinical depression, return to work programs and greater gender equality in the workplace.
The researchers urged psychiatrists to address the issue of macro-economic policies negatively impacting the health of their patients and support prevention.
"Recessions will continue to hurt, but need not cause self-harm," they concluded.
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