(HealthDay News) — The Great Recession that began in 2007 appears to have taken more than a financial toll: New research suggests that the economic downturn could be linked with more than 10,000 suicides across North America and Europe.
In conducting the study, researchers from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine examined information on suicides from the World Health Organization. The data included 24 countries in the European Union as well as Canada and the United States.
The investigators found a reversal in the decline in suicides in the European Union that coincided with the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007. By 2009, suicides had increased by 6.5%. Meanwhile, suicides in Canada rose by 4.5% between 2007–2010. In the United States there was an increase of 4.8% during this time period. According to the study authors, these figures are “conservative” estimates. They said that the actual number of suicides since the recession hit are likely much greater than expected.
“A critical question for policy and psychiatric practice is whether suicide rises are inevitable. This study shows that rising suicides have not been observed everywhere so while recessions will continue to hurt, they don’t always cause self-harm,” Aaron Reeves, PhD, of Oxford University’s department of sociology said in the news release. “A range of interventions, from return-to-work programs through to antidepressant prescriptions, may reduce the risk of suicide during future economic downturns,” he concluded.