It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but now there’s data to prove it: Rises in unemployment similar to those in the current economic crisis increase homicide and suicide rates, according to researchers at the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In the upcoming edition of the Lancet, they published a paper titled “The Public Health Effect of Economic Crisis and Alternative Government Policy Responses in Europe: An Empirical Analysis.” Among their findings:
The authors looked at how economic changes have affected mortality rates in 26 European Union (EU) countries over the past three decades, and identified how governments might reduce adverse effects.
They found that for every 1% increase in unemployment, there was a 0.8% rise in suicide rates at ages younger than 65 years—or between 60 and 550 extra suicides per year across the EU. Murder rates also rose 0.8%. Both these effects were greatest at working ages…If unemployment rose by more than 3%, suicide rates for those aged under 65 rose by 4.5%, and deaths from alcohol abuse by 28%.
Of course, there was a little icing on the cake:
By contrast, road traffic accidents decreased by 1.4%.
Always a glass-half-full bunch, those researchers.