The financial crisis has been linked to a 4.5 per cent increase in Canada’s suicide rate, according to a study that estimates at least 10,000 extra suicides could be connected to economic hardship in EU countries and North America.

Researchers compared suicide data from the World Health Organization before and after the onset of the recession in 2007.

"A crucial question for policy and psychiatric practice is whether these suicide rises are inevitable," Aaron Reeves of Oxford University’s sociology department and his co-authors said in Wednesday’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Given that the rise in suicides exceeded what would be expected and the large variations in suicide rates across countries, the researchers suspect some of the suicides were "potentially avoidable."

In Canada, the suicides rose by 4.5 per cent or about 240 suicides more than expected between 2007 and 2010. In the U.S.A, the rate increased by 4.8 per cent over the same period.

Before 2007 in Europe, suicide rates had been falling, but the trend reversed, rising by 6.5 per cent by 2009 and staying elevated through 2011.

Two countries, Sweden and Finland, bucked the trend in the early 1990s.

Job loss, home repossession and debt are the main risk factors leading to suicide during economic downturns, previous studies suggest.

Reeves said three factors may help buffer economic shocks that could lead to suicide:

- Effective treatment for clinical depression.

- Return to work programs.

- Greater gender equality in the workplace — rates rose for both and women, but the increases were about four times greater among men. In highly masculine environments, where male identity is bound up with work, job loss could pose more of a threat to status.

"Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. These data reveal a looming mental health crisis in Europe and North America. In these hard economic times, this research suggests it is critical to look for ways of protecting those who are likely to be hardest hit," study co-author Prof. David Stuckler of Oxford said in a release.

As mental health services retrench, the researchers urged psychiatrists to speak up about how macro-economic policies affect the health of their patients and advocate for prevention.

"Recessions will continue to hurt, but need not cause self-harm," they concluded.

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  • Next: Twitter Jokes About New Bills

  • Andrew Coyne

    Even that would be better. @InklessPW: Wells designs new bills. What'll we put on the 5? Oscar Peterson. The 10? Peterson. 20? Glenn Gould

  • Cory S.

    Wait so there's no more quote from the Hockey Sweater on the new $5 bills? #manifencours

  • Tabatha Southey

    New bills should be 5 pin bowling for the $5, a Robertson screwdriver for the $10, a Canadian flag, draped over a picnic bench on the backs.

  • LauraBeaulneStuebing

    Theory about the new $5 and $10 bills: They're ugly enough that we don't want to keep them in our wallets.

  • Paul Wells

    Paul Wells designs the new bills. "What'll we put on the 5?" "Oscar Peterson." "And on the 10?" "Oscar Peterson." "20?" "Glenn Gould."

  • Wesley Fok

    Was expecting the new $5/$10 bills to literally have pictures of poop on them, based on the outcry. Surprise: they look like money!

  • Patrick Meehan

    Q: You're the federal government, what do you put on the new 5$ and 10$ bills? A: Things you've cut funding to. http://t.co/jqT3BLmENc

  • Jason Rehel

    Everyone is pretty damn hung up on the AESTHETICS of the new $5 and $10 bills in Canada. Me? I'd like money that WORKS in vending machines

  • Brittlestar

    @Cmdr_Hadfield Dude, with all the stuff you’ve had up there (guitars, Easter eggs, new $5 bills), how BIG was your suitcase?