Unemployment is linked with a number of unwanted consequences but findings of a new study have revealed that losing one's job can have more serious repercussions.
Researchers from Zurich, Switzerland who conducted the study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry on Feb. 10 have found that 45,000 people worldwide commit suicide every year because they are unemployed. The research also revealed that the financial crisis that occurred in 2008 has triggered more people to take their own life than previously believed.
Study researcher Carlos Nordt, from Zurich University's Psychiatric Hospital, and colleagues looked at data on suicide and the economy from the mortality database of the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as from the world economic outlook database of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to find out the number of suicides that are linked with unemployment.
The researchers looked at the data of 63 countries for the period covering the years 2000 to 2011. Data from two largely populated countries, China and India, however, were not available.
Nordt and colleagues found that in the 63 countries, 230,000 people take their own life annually and one in five did so because of lack of job. The association between suicide and unemployment was particularly noticeable during the 2008 financial crisis.
Earlier studies have already shown that the number of individuals who committed suicide after this year has increased briefly by about 5,000. The new research, however, shows that a total of 46,000 suicides that occurred in 2008 were linked with unemployment.
"After the crisis year in 2008, the number of suicides increased short-term by 5,000 cases," Nordt said. "Therefore, suicides associated with unemployment totaled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis."
The researchers likewise found that the association between suicide and unemployment was equally strong in all of the global regions examined in the study and that age and gender made no difference.
Nordt and colleagues said that suicide risks can be reduced if governments invest in labor market policies that improve the efficiency of labor markets, which in turn could help generate more jobs and reduce the rate of unemployment.
"Suicides associated with unemployment totalled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis," the researchers wrote. "Prevention strategies focused on the unemployed and on employment and its conditions are necessary not only in difficult times but also in times of stable economy."