The Great Recession resulted in 5,000 additional suicides worldwide in 2009, according to a recent study -- the first to look at suicide trends globally in the wake of the crisis.
The study found a “clear rise” in the number of suicides globally in 2009, one year after the global financial crisis first hit -- the number was higher than expected based on data from 2000 to 2007.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong, University of Oxford, University of Bristol and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, analyzed World Health Organization data and information from the Center for Disease Control in 54 countries and found that the additional 4,884 suicides occurred largely in Europe and the Americas where the crisis was most severe.
Though researchers can’t say for sure that the rise in suicides is a direct result of the financial crisis -- they found a correlation, not a causation -- the findings mirror other research indicating that economic downturns tend to lead to an increase in the suicide rate.
As this most recent study, published in the journal BMJ notes, the economic crisis in east Asia in the 1990s resulted in more than 10,000 additional suicides in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea. A 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control found that in the U.S., the suicide rate has historically spiked during times of economic crises and dropped during boom economies. In Greece, where unemployment soared to a record high 27 percent earlier this year, the suicide rate has jumped by 45 percent over the past few years, an Athens-based aid group found.
In Europe, where youth unemployment has soared to crisis levels, the increase in suicides was largely concentrated among men aged 15-24, according to the study. In the Americas, the impact was felt most strongly among men ages 45-64.