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BMJ. Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries

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  • BMJ. Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries

    [Source: British Medical Journal, full Open Access Article: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]


    Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries

    <CITE><ABBR>BMJ </ABBR>2013; 347 doi: (Published 17 September 2013)</CITE>
    <CITE>Cite this as: <ABBR>BMJ</ABBR> 2013;347:f5239</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>Shu-Sen Chang, 1 2 3, David Stuckler, 4 5, Paul Yip, 1 6, David Gunnell, 2

    Author Affiliations: <SUP>1</SUP>HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Jockey Club Building for Interdisciplinary Research, 5 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, China <SUP>2</SUP>School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK <SUP>3</SUP>Ju Shan Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan <SUP>4</SUP>Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK <SUP>5</SUP>Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London. UK <SUP>6</SUP>Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

    Correspondence to: S-S Chang

    Accepted 12 August 2013



    To investigate the impact of the 2008 global economic crisis on international trends in suicide and to identify sex/age groups and countries most affected.


    Time trend analysis comparing the actual number of suicides in 2009 with the number that would be expected based on trends before the crisis (2000-07).


    Suicide data from 54 countries; for 53 data were available in the World Health Organization mortality database and for one (the United States) data came the CDC online database.


    People aged 15 or above.

    Main outcome measures

    Suicide rate and number of excess suicides in 2009.


    There were an estimated 4884 (95% confidence interval 3907 to 5860) excess suicides in 2009 compared with the number expected based on previous trends (2000-07). The increases in suicide mainly occurred in men in the 27 European and 18 American countries; the suicide rates were 4.2% (3.4% to 5.1%) and 6.4% (5.4% to 7.5%) higher, respectively, in 2009 than expected if earlier trends had continued. For women, there was no change in European countries and the increase in the Americas was smaller than in men (2.3%). Rises in European men were highest in those aged 15-24 (11.7%), while in American countries men aged 45-64 showed the largest increase (5.2%). Rises in national suicide rates in men seemed to be associated with the magnitude of increases in unemployment, particularly in countries with low levels of unemployment before the crisis (Spearman?s r<SUB>s</SUB>=0.48).


    After the 2008 economic crisis, rates of suicide increased in the European and American countries studied, particularly in men and in countries with higher levels of job loss.