A new study has found the financial crisis between 2008 and 2010 was responsible for thousands of deaths across Europe and North America. The researchers found that suicides rates spiked sharply between 2008 and 2010 as millions lost their jobs and homes, and levels of debt surged. The spike in suicide rates reversed a downward trend in Europe and Canada in the years before the crash.
This corresponds to an additional 7,950 suicides than would have been expected across the 24 EU countries during this time period. Before the recession suicide rates had been falling in Europe.
Deaths by suicide were also falling in Canada, but there was a marked increase when the recession took hold in 2008, leading to 240 more suicides.
The number of people taking their own life was already increasing in the US, but the rate "accelerated" with the economic crisis, leading to 4,750 additional deaths.
Overall there were at least 10,000 additional suicides as a result of the crisis, the authors say.
But they added that this is a conservative estimate. "If we had an upper range, you could say ... 20,000," said David Stuckler, a sociology professor at the University of Oxford and senior author of the report.
Some countries coped with the economic shock better than others, with suicide rates in Sweden and Austria remaining steady. Stuckler said both countries had a good record of helping people find new jobs, a key factor in keeping suicide rates in check along with good mental health care.