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BACKGROUND: Suicide rates increase during periods of economic recession, but little is known about the characteristics of people whose deaths are related to recession, the timing of risk in relation to job loss, the nature of financial stresses and the sources of help individuals used. METHODS: We extracted information on social and economic circumstances, mental health and help-seeking from the coroners׳ records of 286 people who died by suicide in 2010 and 2011 in four areas of England. We graded each death on a 5-point scale of 'recession-relatedness', measuring the extent to which recession, employment and financial problems contributed to the death. RESULTS: Financial and employment-related issues contributed substantially to 38 (13%) of the deaths and were thought to be the key contributing factor in 11 (4%). Individuals whose deaths were thought to be related to the recession were less likely to have previously self-harmed but were more likely to be employed (61% vs. 43%), have financial difficulties (76% vs. 23%) and financial dependents (55% vs. 23%). Amongst the subset of 11 people where financial/employment issues were the key contributory factor, only two (18%) had ever had contact with psychiatric services. LIMITATIONS: Details on finances and employment were not systematically recorded by coroners. We found richer information was usually available for people who were living with other people. CONCLUSIONS: Financial difficulties, little past psychiatric history, low levels of service contact and having financial dependents were more common in 'recession-related' deaths. This suggests that interventions to prevent recession-related rises in suicide should be focused on non-clinical agencies and initiatives.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





98 - 105


Coroners׳ records, Economic recession, England, Suicide, Adult, Causality, Coroners and Medical Examiners, Depressive Disorder, Economic Recession, Employment, England, Female, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Self-Injurious Behavior, Suicide, Unemployment