Almost 500 additional suicides linked to recession

Unemployment, depression and substance abuse key risks during downturn, study finds

The economic recession has been linked to almost 500 additional deaths by suicide, new research suggests.

The economic recession has been linked to almost 500 additional deaths by suicide, new research suggests.

 

The economic recession has been linked to almost 500 additional deaths by suicide, new research suggests.

A study by the National Suicide Research Foundation shows there was a significant increase in the rate of suicide and self-harm between 2008 and 2012, reversing the previous decreasing trend.

Increased unemployment, combined with depression and substance abuse, appear to have been key risk factors among deaths during the downturn.

The findings come as the health policy chiefs prepare plans for a five-year suicide prevention strategy, due to be published shortly.

The strategic framework is expected to place a heavy emphasis on expanding the use of crisis nurses to support patients at risk of self-harming, along with dozens of other measures.

The foundation’s research shows the rate of suicide among men at the end of 2012 was 57 per cent higher than would have been the case if the recession had not occurred. The equivalent rate for women was 7 per cent higher.

When measured in absolute terms, the foundation estimates these figures equate to 476 more male suicides than would have been expected if previous trends continued.

Similarly, the rate of self harm among men was 37 per cent higher than would have been the case if there was, while the rate among women was 26 per cent higher.

Self-harm

This equates to just over 5,000 presentations of self-harm among men and more than 3,800 among women during the same period, according to the study by Prof Ella Arensman and Dr Paul Corcoran.

While similar findings have been found internationally, Prof Arensman said the impact seems to have been greater in Ireland.

Recent research by the foundation involved analysing more than 300 consecutive deaths in the Cork area to help shed light on risk factors among those who die by suicide.

This study found that in 33 per cent of suicides the individual was unemployed and 42 per cent had worked in the construction or production sector, both severely affected by the recession.

But the study found other factors were also prevalent among those who died.

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