Suicide Rates Higher after Recession Than During Recession

An economic recession like the one the United States has recently experienced can cause immense financial and emotional strain on citizens. Job loss, in particular, is a uniquely stressful event that can create feelings of loss of control, worry, and fear. For people with a risk for negative mental health outcomes, an economic recession may be an especially vulnerable time.

Some statistics suggest that mental health problems and even suicides increase during a recession. However, according to a recent study led by Anthony M. Garcy of the Center for Health Equity Studies at Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute in Sweden, more people take their own lives in the period after a recession than during one. Garcy discovered this finding after a thorough examination of national data from Sweden that included unemployment, health, and mortality records from over 3,400,000 Swedish citizens during a recession and in the following years.

He found that although job loss was high, suicide rates did not increase dramatically as a result during the recession period. However, for men especially, the postrecession period suicide rates were higher than during the recession. Garcy considered other factors, such as marital status, socioeconomic conditions, and family support, and found that despite these, men with a history of long unemployment were most at risk for suicide during postrecession times.

The results suggest that there is an indirect and loose association between unemployment and suicide. Garcy also looked at other risk factors, such as mental health, drug and alcohol use, and being single and found that these increased the risk. He believes that people with these additional risk factors may have a more fragile sense of psychological well-being and, when subjected to long periods of unemployment, may not be able to cope as well as their more resilient peers.

“Our findings are consistent with the idea that mental health problems are likely to have developed as a result of unemployment, particularly as unemployment experience accumulated over time,” said Garcy. These growing mental health problems put people at greater risk for psychological deterioration and ultimately, suicide. Given the dynamic fluctuations in the global economy, these results are significant for people everywhere. Garcy believes that suicide interventions are particularly essential to people with long-term unemployment histories, especially those with psychological risk factors.

Garcy, A.M., Vagero, D. (2013). Unemployment and Suicide During and After a Deep Recession: A Longitudinal Study of 3.4 Million Swedish Men and Women. American Journal of Public Health 103.6 (2013): 1031-1038. ProQuest. Web.

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  • Lily

    May 29th, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Sounds like a storm leaving behind rubble behind it.While the impact itself is painful the realization and the aftermath is even more.What can be done at such a time?Because employment cannot be gotten back just like that!

  • Arleen

    May 30th, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    If I had to take a guess I would say that a lot of this is caused by the prolonged recession and how much it continues to drag you down year after year. This could be especially true for the men who have lost their jobs, and for several years have had to be put on hold due to the inability to find another job, one that is meaningful and allows them to support their families like they did before. I know that this kind of state would be troubing for anyone, but certainly for a man who has always been accustomed to being the breadwinner and now finds that he is having a hard time supporting his family the way that he wishes to. And even when the recession is lifting for some there is still no job, no hope for improvement and that is probably when you are likely to see the suicide numbers go on the rise.

  • Psicólogo Barcelona

    May 30th, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    I agree completely. In Spain the use of drugs has duplicated the risks of suicide in psychiatric population in a few years.

  • Jack

    May 30th, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    I guess the pressure takes some time to have an effect. Not that it is a good thing but is definitely something to take note of!

    I know at least two people who suffered from depression after losing their job during the recession. Spare a thought to the families of these people who commit suicide. Recession does not a man break, it breaks and pains an entire family.

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