Thursday, August 20, 2009

Suicide and Recession

In an article in the latest SPINZ (Suicide Prevention Information NZ) newsletter, Dr Sunny Collings writes:

Recent articles in the media have suggested that the recession is having an impact on suicide rates. For example, in the UK a death by suicide was reported as being the ‘first suicide due to the economic downturn’. Irrespective of the details of the individual case, this claim is an oversimplification. The causes of suicide are complex and both individual level factors and societal/cultural factors are important.

Suicide rates rose in New Zealand during the Great Depression with a peak in 1930. The international rise in suicide rates during the Depression was probably due to the rise in unemployment. Evidence of a link between unemployment and suicide has been shown in New Zealand, with an odds ratio of about 2.5, meaning that people who are unemployed are more likely to complete suicide.

However, mental disorder was estimated as accounting for about half of the increased risk.

Dr Collings discusses the connections - or lack of them - further in the article, which is available online. Basically, unemployment - particularly for men - can add hugely to stress in a person's life, but it's usually only when it's added to an existing state of unwellness that the risk of suicide increases.

No comments: