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Unemployment and suicidal behaviour: A review of the literature

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  • Platt, Stephen

Abstract

In order to provide a framework for reviewing the voluminous literature on unemployment and suicidal behaviour, the author distinguishes between two categories of deliberately self-harmful act: those with fatal outcome (suicide) and those with non-fatal outcome (parasuicide); and differentiates four major types of quantitative research report: individual--cross-sectional; aggregate--cross-sectional; individual-longitudinal; and aggregate-longitudinal. Methodological issues and empirical research findings are discussed separately for each type of study and each category of deliberate self-harm. Cross-sectional individual studies reveal that significantly more parasuicides and suicides are unemployed than would be expected among general population samples. Likewise, parasuicide and suicide rates among the unemployed are always considerably higher than among the employed. Aggregate--cross-sectional studies provide no evidence of a consistent relationship between unemployment and completed suicide, but a significant geographical association between unemployment and parasuicide was found. Results from all but one of the individual longitudinal studies point to significantly more unemployment, job instability and occupational problems among suicides compared to non-suicides. The aggregate longitudinal analyses reveal a significant positive association between unemployment and suicide in the United States of America and some European countries. The negative relationship in Great Britain during the 1960s and early 1970s has been shown to result from a unique decline in suicide rates due to the unavailability of the most common method of suicide. However, despite the firm evidence of an association between unemployment and suicidal behaviour, the nature of this association remains highly problematic. On the basis of the available data, the author suggests that macro-economic conditions, although not directly influencing the suicide rate, may nevertheless constitute an important antecedent variable in the causal chain leading to self-harmful behaviour. Further empirical research based on a longitudinal design is recommeded as a matter of urgency so that a more definitive assessment of the aetiological significance of unemployment in parasuicide may be made.

Suggested Citation

  • Platt, Stephen, 1984. "Unemployment and suicidal behaviour: A review of the literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 93-115, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:19:y:1984:i:2:p:93-115
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    Cited by:

    1. Phiri, Andrew & Mukuka, Doreen, 2017. "Does unemployment aggravate suicide rates in South Africa? Some empirical evidence," MPRA Paper 80749, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Izunna Anyikwa & Nicolene Haaman & Andrew Phiri, 2018. "Persistence of suicides in G20 countries: SPSM approach to three generations of unit root tests," Working Papers 1825, Department of Economics, Nelson Mandela University.
    3. Koo, Jahyeong & Cox, W. Michael, 2006. "An economic interpretation of suicide cycles in Japan," Working Papers 0603, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    4. Aysit Tansel & H. Mehmet Taşçı, 2010. "Hazard Analysis of Unemployment Duration by Gender in a Developing Country: The Case of Turkey," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(4), pages 501-530, December.
    5. Ross, Justin M. & Yakovlev, Pavel A. & Carson, Fatima, 2012. "Does state spending on mental health lower suicide rates?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 408-417.
    6. Rottmann, Horst, 2014. "Do unemployment benefits and employment protection influence suicide mortality? An international panel data analysis," Weidener Diskussionspapiere 42, University of Applied Sciences Amberg-Weiden (OTH).
    7. Eiji Yamamura, 2015. "Comparison of Social Capital's Effect on Consideration of Suicide between Urban and Rural Areas," ISER Discussion Paper 0933, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    8. Bjornstad, Roger, 2006. "Learned helplessness, discouraged workers, and multiple unemployment equilibria," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 458-475, June.
    9. Schaede Ulrike, 2013. "Sunshine and Suicides in Japan: revisiting the relevance of economic determinants of suicide," Contemporary Japan, De Gruyter, vol. 25(2), pages 105-126, August.
    10. Rosalba Jasso Vargas, 2013. "La dimensión espacial del suicidio y su vínculo con el mercado laboral mexicano (2000-2004)," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA, June.
    11. Hempstead, Katherine, 2006. "The geography of self-injury: Spatial patterns in attempted and completed suicide," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 3186-3196, June.
    12. Eiji Yamamura, 2015. "Comparison of Social Trust’s Effect on Suicide Ideation between Urban and Non-urban Areas: The Case of Japanese Adults in 2006," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2015/06, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    13. Tasnim Khan & Fatima Yousaf, 2013. "Unemployment Duration of First Time Job Seekers: A Case Study of Bahawalpur," Asian Journal of Economic Modelling, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 1(1), pages 8-19, December.
    14. Balázs Szentes & Caroline D. Thomas, 2013. "An Evolutionary Theory of Suicide," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-11, August.
    15. Hourani, Laurel L. & Davidson, Lucy & Clinton-Sherrod, Monique & Patel, Nita & Marshall, Maureen & Crosby, Alex E., 2006. "Suicide prevention and community-level indictors," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 377-385, November.
    16. Christian Breuer & Horst Rottmann, 2014. "Do Labor Market Institutions Influence Suicide Mortality? An International Panel Data Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4875, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Roger Bjørnstad, 2001. "Learned Helplessness, Discouraged Workers, and Multiple Unemployment Equilibria in a Search Model," Discussion Papers 303, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    18. Sarah H. Gordon & Benjamin D. Sommers, 2016. "Recessions, Poverty, and Mortality in the United States: 1993–2012," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 489-510, Fall.
    19. Jahyeong Koo & W. Michael Cox, 2008. "An Economic Interpretation Of Suicide Cycles In Japan," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 162-174, January.
    20. Minoiu, Camelia & Andres, Antonio Rodriguez, 2008. "The effect of public spending on suicide: Evidence from U.S. state data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 237-261, February.
    21. Chen, Ping-Yu & Chang, Chia-Lin & Chen, Chi-Chung, 2010. "Estimating the Impacts of Climate Change on Mortality in OECD Countries," MPRA Paper 27915, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Benjamin A. Austin & Edward L. Glaeser & Lawrence H. Summers, 2018. "Jobs for the Heartland: Place-Based Policies in 21st Century America," NBER Working Papers 24548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Bernburg, Jon Gunnar & Thorlindsson, Thorolfur & Sigfusdottir, Inga D., 2009. "The spreading of suicidal behavior: The contextual effect of community household poverty on adolescent suicidal behavior and the mediating role of suicide suggestion," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 380-389, January.
    24. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1996. "The psychological impact of unemployment and joblessness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 333-358.

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