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Financial crisis increases suicides and homicides
Date:7/10/2009

Market crashes could lead to rises in homicides and suicides, unless governments invest in labour market protections, according to a study published in today's Lancet.

Researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Oxford University estimated that soaring stress brought on by job losses could prompt a 2.4% rise in suicide rates in people under-64 years of age, a 2.7% rise in heart attack deaths in men between 30 and 44 years, and a 2.4% rise in homicides rates, corresponding to thousands of deaths in European Union countries, such as the UK.

Government spending to keep people in employment and quickly get them back to work when they lose jobs could prevent these rises in deaths from occurring, the study says. When spending on such "active labour market programmes" is above US $190 (115; 135) per person, financial crisis would not be a major killer.

The report also suggests that in poor countries, where investments in active labour market programmes are much lower or virtually non-existent, the death toll brought on by the financial meltdown would be much worse.

The study, entitled The public health effect of economic crisis and alternative government policy responses in Europe: an empirical analysis was written in the wake of concerns that health might suffer as a result of the financial crisis. It is thought to be the most comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between economic crises, unemployment and mortality in Europe and the first to consider the role of specific government responses.

"Financial crisis causes hardship for many ordinary people, but it does not have to cost them their lives", social epidemiologist David Stuckler, who led the research said. He continued, "Our findings show that investing in active labour market programmes can both help the economy and save lives."

The researchers studied mortality rates for over 30 causes of death from the World Health Organ
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Contact: Gemma Howe
gemma.howe@lshtm.ac.uk
020-792-72802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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