Evidence emerging of a global increase in suicide rates

The Economist has warned that lockdown and social distancing measures may be contributing to increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, and suicidal ideation. A survey conducted in August by America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in ten of the 5,400 respondents had seriously considered suicide in the previous month—about twice as many who had thought of taking their lives in 2018.

For young adults, aged 18 to 24, the proportion considering suicide rose to one in four. With most countries reporting suicides with a time lag it is too early to say for certain whether this will translate into attempted suicides, but globally many countries are reporting an increase. Japan reported a 15.3% increase in suicides this August compared to the same period of time in 2019, with Thailand and Nepal also reporting increases.

Men are particularly at risk of suicide, with the rising unemployment rates caused by Covid-19 a concern.  A study in the Lancet estimated that a 1% rise in unemployment would lead to a 0.79% climb in suicide in Europe and a 0.99% increase in America where unemployment benefits are less generous.  

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