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Economic uncertainty and suicide in the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Sotiris Vandoros, Ichiro Kawachi

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-647
Number of pages7
JournalEUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
PublishedJun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We are grateful to the Editors of the Journal and two anonymous Referees for their very useful comments and suggestions that have helped improve the paper. We would also like to thank Xiangpu Gong for assistance with data extraction and Pedro Santos Raposo for comments on an earlier version of the paper. All outstanding errors are our own. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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Abstract

Previous studies have found an association between recessions and increased rates of suicide. In the present study we widened the focus to examine the association between economic uncertainty and suicides. We used monthly suicide data from the US at the State level from 2000 to 2017 and combined them with the monthly economic uncertainty index. We followed a panel data econometric approach to study the association between economic uncertainty and suicide, controlling for unemployment and other indicators. Economic uncertainty is positively associated with suicide when controlling for unemployment [coeff: 8.026; 95% CI: 3.692–12.360] or for a wider range of economic and demographic characteristics [coeff: 7.478; 95% CI: 3.333–11.623]. An increase in the uncertainty index by one percent is associated with an additional 11–24.4 additional monthly suicides in the US. Economic uncertainty is likely to act as a trigger, which underlines the impulsive nature of some suicides. This highlights the importance of providing access to suicide prevention interventions (e.g. hotlines) during periods of economic uncertainty.

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