Addressing the economic factors associated with suicidal behaviour

The association between suicidal behaviour and unemployment and poverty suggests that in order for suicide rates to change markedly these important socio-economic factors must be modified. The big increase in suicide rates during the economic depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s and the statistical association between suicide risk and unemployment would support this. Clearly such factors are increasingly a reflection of the global economic situation, but the strategies of individual governments, particularly in relation to the employment prospects for young people, may be influential. The main role of psychiatrist should probably be in highlighting these factors. Responsibility for suicide prevention tends to be laid at the door of psychiatry as if suicide is nearly always entirely the result of mental illness. The considerable evidence, however, that changes in the economic environment can exert a powerful influence on suicide rates indicates that governments with serious intentions to reduce suicide rates should address these issues.(23)

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