Study links British recession to 1,000 suicides

Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:01pm EDT
 
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By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - A painful economic recession, rising unemployment and biting austerity measures may have already driven more than 1,000 people in Britain to commit suicide, according to a scientific study published on Wednesday.

The study, a so-called time-trend analysis which compared the actual number of suicides with those expected if pre-recession trends had continued, reflects findings elsewhere in Europe where suicides are also on the rise.

"This a grim reminder after the euphoria of the Olympics of the challenges we face and those that lie ahead," said David Stuckler, a sociologist at Cambridge University who co-led the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The analysis found that between 2008 and 2010 there were 846 more suicides among men in England than would have been expected if previous trends continued, and 155 more among women.

Between 2000 and 2010 each annual 10 percent increase in the number of unemployed people was associated with a 1.4 percent increase in the number of male suicides, the study found.

The analysis used data from the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database and the Office of National Statistics.

Stuckler, who worked with researchers from Liverpool University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stressed while this kind of statistical study could not establish a causal link, the power of the associations was strong. Its conclusions were strengthened by other indicators of rising mental health problems, stress and anxiety, he added.

He also pointed out the study showed a small reduction in the number of suicides in 2010 which coincided with a slight recovery in male employment.   Continued...