July 8, 2011
Financial Crisis Helped Drive European Suicides
Health experts say that the financial crisis "almost certainly" led to an increase in suicides across Europe.
The analysis by U.S. and U.K. researchers found a rise in suicides was recorded among people from 2007 to 2009 in nine of the 10 nations studied.
According to a report by the Lancet, the increase varied between 5 percent and 17 percent for those under the age of 65 after a period of falling suicide rates.
Researchers said investment in welfare systems was the key to keeping rates down.
The team said people back into work or having programs to stop them losing their jobs in the first place was more important than giving them benefits.
They used World Health Organization data to compare rates in the 10 countries, including the U.K.
They found that during the period, there was a rise in unemployment by a third.
Only Austria saw suicide rates decline, which the team said was possibly due to the country being less exposed to the financial crisis.
Dr. David Stuckler, one of the researchers, said in a statement: "There was a complete turnaround. Suicides were falling before the recession, then started rising in nearly all European countries studied. Almost certainly these rises are linked to the financial crisis."
He said it was possible there would be other health consequences from the economic problems as the impact on heart disease and cancer rates was not seen for many years.
The researchers found that driving deaths dropped during the period, which is a trend that was put down to the falls in vehicle use that tend to take place during a falling economic.
According to a report by BBC, prescriptions for drugs like Prozac jumped by over 40 percent in the past four years.
Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, told BBC: "We know that unemployment and the fear of unemployment are major risk factors for poor mental health.
"This research shows how important it is that we treat the mental health of people who are not just out of work but also in work but fear losing their jobs as a major public health issue".
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