The Irish National Suicide Research Foundation has published research stating that unemployment is associated with a significantly greater rise of suicide amongst both men and women.
Unemployment increases the risk of suicide by two-to-threefold in men and a four-to-sixfold increase in women. During the Celtic Tiger economic boom of 1996 to 2006 the rate of suicide in Ireland was relatively stable. This is certainly not the case now.
“What was interesting was that we found for the first time that relatively speaking, the risk for unemployed women was higher than for men,” said Dr Ella Arensman, the research director with the group.
“One explanation for this from the international literature is that since the end of the 1980s and particularly through the 1990s and the last decade, women have become an increasing part of the labor market.”
“The findings that even in periods of fairly low unemployment, the risk of suicide and undetermined deaths in unemployment was still fairly high, could point to the phenomenon of people feeling deviant vis-a-vis their neighbors and other people in their community. This is something people do not really think about, but it shows the relationship between unemployment and suicide is much more complex than we think,” said Arensman.
Though there have been measures brought in such as educational resources and awareness for those working with the unemployed, for example at the social welfare office. However Arensman is worried about how quickly this massive economic turnaround has taken place in Ireland.
“Actions are being taken but one of the things worrying us is that the recession started so rapidly and often with extreme events, we see quite extreme reactions.
“In 2008, for the first time, we saw the highest ever increase in self harm in Irish men.
“We know from international research that self harm in men has a stronger association with suicide than self harm in women and up going trends of self harm in men could predict an increase in suicide.”