Financial crises, suicide and how to help

By Laura Mize • Published: December 20th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Drained retirement accounts, lost jobs and scores of home foreclosures — these are just some of the devastating effects of the global economic crisis that hit in 2008.

Researchers have found another, even more brutal outcome of the Great Recession: widespread increases in suicide.

Across 54 nations studied, researchers found nearly 4,900 more suicides than expected in 2009, the year after the recession began. According to the study, most of these suicides were in men. The scientists also found the increases were most severe in countries with the lowest pre-crisis unemployment rates.

Of the dozens of nations studied, those in Europe and the Americas had the greatest jump in suicide rates. The nine Asian or African states analyzed saw less impact. Complete data on rates in other Asian and African nations were unavailable.

The Great Recession is not the only financial crisis that has boosted suicide rates. Past research has shown similar patterns for other recessions. That begs an important question: If more suicides are somewhat predictable in a financial downturn, can we prevent them?

Recognizing warning signs of suicide is the first step. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some signs include talking about committing suicide or wanting to die, insomnia, feeling hopeless or trapped, social withdrawal and devising a suicide plan. If someone you know shows these signs, the A-F-S-P recommends asking if he or she is suicidal, suggesting professional help and, if your friend talks about suicide, intervening to get help right away. It’s also important to remove dangerous objects from your friend’s surroundings and to support him or her even after treatment starts.

For more on preventing suicide, visit But don’t wait for the stock market to dive. Someone may need your help today.