Suicide data from before 2007 was compared with suicides from the years of the crisis by researchers from the University of Oxford. The researchers found that over 10,000 “economic suicides” were associated with the recession in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
'There has been a substantial rise in suicides during the recession, considerably more than we would have expected based on previous trends,” says lead author Aaron Reeves, a researcher in the sociology department at Oxford University.
Senior author David Stuckler said “Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. These data reveal a looming mental health crisis in Europe and North America.”
The increase in suicides was four times higher among men than among women, likely, as the researchers suggested, because "men feel greater pressure and shame when faced with financial failure, and are also less likely to seek psychiatric care."
The majority of suicides were among those who already suffered from depression, as data revealed a spike in antidepressant prescriptions during the time period.
After the recession hit, the tram estimated that the U.S. suffered 4750 “excess suicide deaths.”
Suicide rates were significantly larger in states where more people lost their jobs. There were significant differences from county to county depending on the type and amount of social and economic support available to those affected by the economic crash.
Because suicide rates varied depending on the support systems available, it is clear that suicide isn’t inevitable in these situations, researchers said. Stuckler and Reeves suggested that if another economic downturn were to happen, suicide increases could be mitigated by offering more social support and government “return to work” programs and psychological interventions.
Stuckler: “These economic suicides are avoidable.”