Economic crises can lead to an increase in suicide
A review of scientific literature investigating the impact of economic crises on suicide has been carried out through a project funded by Region Stockholm. Most of the included studies show a risk of an increase in suicide during and after economic crises. At the same time, the results from a couple of studies indicate that countries that have invested more in welfare, for example the Scandinavian countries, seem to have fared better compared with countries that have invested less in welfare.
Through a collaborative project, Centrum för arbets- och miljömedicin (CAMM) and the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (NASP) have reviewed scientific literature on suicide and economic crises. The aim was to increase knowledge about possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on labor market related factors and suicide.
In general, economic crises are followed by an increase in suicide among the working population, mainly among men. Impacts on specific occupational groups vary between countries. Some studies indicate that a larger investment in welfare seemed to dampen the negative effect on suicide. For example, this has been observed in the Scandinavian countries. However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about which component, or combination of components, contributed to this effect.
International research and previous reports from NASP have not reported an increase in suicides as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How the pandemic will affect suicide rates in the future in Sweden's population is unclear, but previous research indicates that suicide rates may increase after the end of the pandemic.
NASP recommends continued work on, and increased implementation of, suicide preventive activities. Efforts to curb the effects of unemployment and loss of other income, as well as targeted support for individuals with low job security, are considered important approaches to avoid negative consequences of the pandemic.