• Expert By Experience

Mental Health In Stats : Understanding the link between unemployment & suicide

Artwork provided within this piece is by Ananya Rao-Middleton, you can see her Instagram here. Mental health in stats is a collaborative series between Ananya and Expert By Experience.

The current unemployment stats -

Data published in October by the Office Of National Statistics reported that unemployment is increasing in the UK. The most recent unemployment rate (date range: June to August) was 4.5%, That is an increase of 0.4% over the previous 3 months (March-May).

Numerically speaking the data shows that roughly 1.5 million people are currently unemployed in the UK.

It should be also be mentioned that another metric consistently used to measure unemployment is benefits, which is a claimant count measures of how many people are claiming benefits for being out of work, or on very low incomes.

Between March, when the lockdown began, and September, the number of people claiming these benefits rose 120% to 2.7 million.

The level of unemployment is only expected to increase as we head deeper into a second lockdown.

Unemployment and suicide -

According to an 11-year study, the association between suicide and unemployment is far greater than previously understood.

An analysis in the journal Lancet Psychiatry explored the link between the two in their 2015 publication. Spanning 11 years from 2000 to 2011, the study had the aim of understanding the links between the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment and suicide.

The study found that suicides attributed to unemployment as a result of the 2008 financial crisis caused about 5,000 deaths in 63 countries, whereas unemployment over the period 2000 to 2011 was responsible for 45,000.

To demonstrate their point the study reported that ‘Unemployment was linked with 41,148 suicides in 2007 and 46,131 in 2009, suggesting that 4,983 excess suicides were associated with the economic crisis in 2008’.

People standing in line for the job center. The image describes the number of suicides attributed to unemployment in 2007 and 2009.
Artwork by Ananya Rao-Middleton

What can we do with this data? -

As we head deeper into the recession it is imperative that are aware of the impact of unemployment and rates of suicide - as this report details.

If you or anyone you know has recently lost their job due to the pandemic please be mindful and seek help if suicidal thoughts begin to enter your mind. Please see a comprehensive list of support lines and services in relation to suicide and crisis.