The psychiatrists analyzed the suicide rates and economic statistics of 63 countries from 2000 to 2011 and determined that unemployment is connected to approximately 45,000 suicides annually.
Researchers had previously registered a spike in suicides during the global economic crisis that began in 2008, suggesting that financial stress and hardship had contributed to the rise. But an analysis published on Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry by doctors at the University of Zurich in Switzerland estimates that about 5,000 suicides were associated with the crisis, while roughly nine times as many self-inflicted deaths are linked to unemployment each year.
According to their findings, unemployment elevated the relative risk of suicide by 20 to 30 percent throughout the world. Suicides related to unemployment accounted for about a fifth of annual totals worldwide, and the association was strongest in countries where being out of work is uncommon. Those who are unemployed can fear losing their income, healthcare, homes, and retirement savings, and doubt their ability to provide for their families.
"Employment is tied to identity," Dan Reidenberg, director of the group Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and managing director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention said. "When people lose a sense of identity and purpose it becomes problematic for them. For someone who is particularly vulnerable or at risk, if you add on a loss of sense of purpose, the risk goes up."
John Draper, the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, explained "What we see with unemployment is that it increases the risk because it makes already bad situations worse for some people," he said. "Any kind of economic strain or unemployment, to the degree that there are already mental health or substance abuse or relationship problems, can make it worse."