Unemployment and job insecurity is linked to higher rates of suicide.
A Swiss study has found that between 2000 and 2011 suicides linked with unemployment totalled 45,000 making up 20% of all suicides with suicides rates rising by 4983 from 2007 to 2009 (the period of recent economic downturn). Researchers also found a six-month time lag between higher suicide rate and a rise in unemployment, There was also a stronger association between suicide and unemployment in countries where baseline unemployment was low.
This large study suggests there is a strong association between suicide and unemployment in times of economic stability as well as in times of economic recession.
As an accompanying paper in The Lancet Psychiatry notes, fluctuating unemployment is only one effect of economic recession that may affect mental health. Other economic strains include falling income, zero hour contracts, job insecurity and debt.
The study goes on to state “Suicide associated with unemployment might be severely underestimated if studies focus only on times of economic crisis. There is a continuous need to focus on preventing suicides, even more so in economically prosperous, stable time periods than in times of lower prosperity, when resources are scarcer, with prevention efforts needed in countries with both low and high unemployment rates.”
Although unemployment may have an influence on suicide rates, other factors such as depression and poor health may also influence these trends. According to the Mental Health Foundation In general, people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are:
• more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
• more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
• more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment
• more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
In order for these trends to change, more needs to be done to address the underlying factors that lead to suicide. As the study concludes, there is a need to focus on preventing suicides particularly in economically prosperous and stable time periods.