Study: Great Recession Caused Additional 5,000 Suicides Worldwide in 2009

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A new study finds that there were nearly an additional 5,000 suicides worldwide in 2009 thanks to the Great Recession.

The study, which was published in the journal BMJ, collected suicide data from 54 countries using the World Health Organization mortality database and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online database.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong, University of Oxford, University of Bristol and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the global suicide rate among men increased by 3.3 percent as unemployment increased by 37 percent, to an excess of 5,124 global suicides in 2009. Suicide data among women showed no change in rates at 240 fewer suicides, so when combined, researchers show that there were an estimated 4,884 suicides that could be attributed to the collapse of the economy.

“After the 2008 economic crisis, rates of suicide increased in the European and American countries studied, particularly in men and in countries with higher levels of job loss,” the study states.

Researchers found that the rise of suicides were mainly in men from 27 European countries and 18 American countries.

“Rises in national suicide rates in 2009 seemed to be associated with the magnitude of increases in unemployment, particularly for men and in countries with low unemployment levels before the crisis,” the study noted. “Our finding is likely to be an underestimate of the true global impact of the economic crisis on suicide as some affected countries, such as Australia and Italy, were not included.”

Among European countries, the suicide rate jumped by 11.7 percent in males between the ages of 15-24. In American countries the largest increase was of men between the ages of 45-64 at 5.2 percent.

Researchers state, though, that there were some limitations to the study, saying that this was observational analysis based on aggregate data and that data was not available for some large economies affected by the recession, among others.

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