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Europe, France

Unemployment is deadly

750 more people have committed suicides in France since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, according to Michael Debout, a psychiatrist who is France’s leading expert on the matter. Unemployment grew 648,000 over the same period of 2008-2011. The recession also prompted 10,000 to try and take their lives – suicide attempts increased by 10,780.

Michel Debout bases his work on a study published in December 2011 by the National Institute of Health Surveillance, which assessed the rate of attempted suicides per year among the unemployed. The professor applied this rate to the number of additional job-seekers since 2008, and then – taking into account things like gender and age – used a correlation factor between suicide attempts and suicide deaths to calculate a “human cost of the crisis.”

Debout says his estimate of 750 “is a considerably toned-down figure because I only take the unemployment factor into account.” The crisis, he explains, “has other effects, like poverty, debt and divorce, which also increase the risk of committing suicide… ”

‘We expect worse in in 2012 and 2013,’ adds Jean-Claude Delgènes, director of Technologia, a company specialists in preventing pyschological risks in firms.

Official figures show France already has among the highest suicide rates in Europe, but after a downward trend from 1987, since 2008 the numbers have been growing again.

The link between suicide and economic crisis was show in 1929, when there was a significant rise in suicides 2-3 years after the Wall Street Crash and onset of the Great Depression.

Europe-wide, suicides increased by 5% between 2007 and 2009, whereas they had been falling prior to this, according to the Lancet. With unemployment in the EU increasing by 35% over the period, the researchers concluded that economic crisis and suicide rates were ‘almost certainly’ linked. The most drammatic rise in suicides – 40% – was seen in Greece.

In France, according to Technologia, the rise has accelerated since last September. Many are linked to indebtedness.

Unions, meanwhile. have signalled, with respect to firms Moulinex and Cellatex which have downsized their workforces recently, that fired workers take their lives some months afterwards, and thus the link is not necessarily made.

Technologia says the suicide rate among unemployed people in a ‘precarious’ situation is double that of the working population in general.

The figure shows changes in rates of adult unemployment and suicide in people aged 0—64 years in each part of the EU, indexed on 2007, the last complete year before the economic crisis. In both old and new EU Member States
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Source: Lancet

Le Monde

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Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


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