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BMJ. 2012 Aug 13;345:e5142. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e5142.

Suicides associated with the 2008-10 economic recession in England: time trend analysis.

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Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GB UK.



To determine whether English regions worst affected by the economic recession in the United Kingdom in 2008-10 have had the greatest increases in suicides.


Time trend analysis comparing the actual number of suicides with those that would be expected if pre-recession trends had continued. Multivariate regression models quantified the association between changes in unemployment (based on claimant data) and suicides (based on data from the National Clinical Health Outcomes Database).


93 English regions, based on the Nomenclature of Territorial Units Statistics level 3 groupings of local authorities at county level and groups of unitary local authorities.


Men and women with a record of death from suicide or injury of undetermined cause in 2000-10.


Number of excess suicides during the economic recession (2008-10).


Between 2008 and 2010, we found 846 (95% confidence interval 818 to 877) more suicides among men than would have been expected based on historical trends, and 155 (121 to 189) more suicides among women. Historically, short term yearly fluctuations in unemployment have been associated with annual changes in suicides among men but not among women. We estimated that each 10% increase in the number of unemployed men was significantly associated with a 1.4% (0.5% to 2.3%) increase in male suicides. These findings suggest that about two fifths of the recent increase in suicides among men (increase of 329 suicides, 126 to 532) during the 2008-10 recession can be attributed to rising unemployment.


The study provides evidence linking the recent increase in suicides in England with the financial crisis that began in 2008. English regions with the largest rises in unemployment have had the largest increases in suicides, particularly among men.

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