(HealthDay News) – The 2008 global economic crisis correlated with increased rates of suicide in European and American countries, according to research published online Sept. 17 in BMJ.

Shu-Sen Chang, MD, PhD, from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a time-trend analysis to examine the impact of the 2008 global economic crisis on international trends in suicide. Suicide data from 54 countries were used and the actual number of suicides in 2009 was compared with the number expected based on trends from 2000–2007.

The researchers found that there were an estimated 4,884 excess suicides in 2009, compared with the number expected. The increases were mainly seen among men in the 27 European and 18 American countries, with rates 4.2% and 6.4% higher, respectively, than expected based on earlier trends. No change was seen in the suicide rates for women in European countries, while in the Americas there was a 2.3% increase. The highest increases were seen for European men aged 15–24 years (11.7%), while the largest increase in American countries was among men aged 45–64 years (5.2%). For men, there was an association between increases in national suicide rates with the magnitude of increases in unemployment, especially in countries with low pre-crisis levels of unemployment.

“After the 2008 economic crisis, rates of suicide increased in the European and American countries studied, particularly in men and in countries with higher levels of job loss,” the authors write.

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