Unemployment drives around one in five suicides every year, according to a new study that included data from 63 countries.
For the first time, researchers from the University of Zurich’s Psychiatric Hospital have been able to draw a larger picture for four regions in the world from 2000 to 2011.
“Every year, around one in five suicides is associated with unemployment,” said first author Carlos Nordt.
Every year, almost a million people die by suicide worldwide, researchers said.
In order to find out how many suicides are associated with unemployment, the researchers included data from 63 countries between 2000 and 2011 in their study.
The countries were divided into four regions: North and South America, northern and western Europe, southern and eastern Europe, and Non-Americas and non-Europe. No data was available from China or India.
“Despite country-specific particularities, we found a similarly strong association between unemployment and suicide rates in all four regions,” said Nordt.
Moreover, a changing unemployment rate affected both sex as well as different age groups equally.
One in five suicides a year was associated with unemployment, researchers said.
“After the crisis year in 2008, the number of suicides increased short-term by 5,000 cases,” said Nordt.
However, around 46,000 suicides overall were associated with unemployment that year.
“Therefore, suicides associated with unemployment totalled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis,” said Nordt.
The impact of a change in unemployment on suicide was stronger in countries with a lower rather than with a higher pre-crisis unemployment rate.
According to the researchers, investments in programs that integrate people in the job market and promote a healthy work climate are also essential in countries with comparably lower unemployment rates.
The study also shows that the rise in the suicide rate preceded the unemployment rate by around six months.
The study was published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.