Suicide rates in the U.S. have soared alongside the economic crisis that began in 2007, a new analysis has found.
An international team of researchers, who analyzed health statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the rate of suicides in the U.S. more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010.
The findings, published online in the journal The Lancet, showed suicide rates rose slowly between 1999 and 2007. But between 2008 and 2010, the rate increased fourfold — rising from an annual rate of 0.12 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people to 0.51 deaths per 100,000.
That translates to about 1,500 additional suicides per year in the U.S. since 2007, compared to the 1997-2007 figures. The researchers suggested rising unemployment may account for about a quarter of the excess suicides since 2007.
"In the run-up to the U.S. presidential election, President [Barack] Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery. Missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans' health during these hard times,” said Aaron Reeves, a researcher with the University of Cambridge. “Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis …"
Reeves and colleagues suggested the findings point up a “clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession.”