Suicides have been on the rise since the recession began in 2008, with the British Medical Journal reporting that economic woe could be to blame for more than 1,000 deaths.
The study shows 846 men and 155 women have committed suicide because of the economic crisis in England, after 20 years of a declining suicide rate.
Clare Wyllie, head of policy and research at Samaritans, said: “It is well-established that the suicide rate tends to rise with unemployment and recession.
“This research gives us credible evidence that the suicide rate in England is linked to the current recession.
“We’ve seen calls to the helpline from people worried about financial difficulties double since the onset of the economic crisis.
“In 2008, one in ten calls to the helpline were about financial issues, but now that’s one in five. There is evidence that government investment in welfare and active labour market policies can mitigate the increase in suicide during recession.
“The research also points to important gender differences in suicide. Samaritans is currently researching how social expectations of men contribute to the considerably higher rate of suicide in men.”
In 2008, suicides rose 8% among men and 9% among women, compared to 2010.
Academics from the universities of Liverpool, Cambridge and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took data from the National Clinical and Health Outcomes database, looking at how many more suicides occurred than would have been expected.
The academics admit that it is impossible to directly link suicides to depression over unemployment. But between 2008 and 2010, the number of unemployed men rose by more than 25% each year.
There was also a small reduction in suicides in 2010, following a slight recovery in male employment.
The study found “although the initial economic shock of the recession does increase suicide risk, policies that promote re-employment may reverse this trend”.
“The human cost of continued high levels of unemployment will outweigh the purported benefits of budget cuts”.
In a separate study, British GPs linked the recession to an increase in abortions, anxiety and alcohol abuse.
More than a fifth of GPs surveyed believed patients sought abortions because of money worries, and 77% felt there had been an increase in mental health disorders being treated.
Richard Kunzmann, Research Manager at Insight Research Group, who has lead the research for the last six months, said: ” It’s a particularly tough challenge for time-poor GPs who are faced with many patients who just need someone to talk to.
“Their only real option in the immediate term is to prescribe medication, which of course is rarely the solution.”
If you have been affected by the issues in this story, please call the Samaritans to talk to someone on 08457 90 90 90