Unemployment and job insecurity linked to increased risk of suicide

“Unemployment causes 45,000 suicides a year worldwide,” The Guardian reports. The story comes from a study that looked at the association between suicide rates and unemployment in 63 countries across the world.

It found that between 2000 and 2011, one in five of an estimated 233,000 annual suicideswere linked to unemployment.

The study cannot prove that unemployment causes suicide, although it certainly suggests a strong association.

The research is useful because it looks at the possible link between suicide and unemployment in the long term and not just during times of economic crisis. It estimates that unemployment between 2000 and 2011 was associated with nine times as many suicides annually as those that were attributable to the 2008 economic recession.

Interestingly, it also found that in countries where being out of work is uncommon the link between suicide risk and a rise in unemployment is stronger.

This could be due to a sense of being stigmatised. In the UK, there are regular media stories about people perceived as abusing the benefit system, but these are likely to be the exception, not the rule. Such distorted coverage may increase the sense of stigmatisation.

The researchers make the suggestion that professionals such as social workers and human resource officers who deal with people who are unemployed or at risk of redundancy, should be given advice to spot possible warning signs, as this may help prevent potential suicides.

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