Cost of Great Recession: 10,000+ lives

June 12, 2014: 12:14 PM ET
economic suicides
Those struggling with debt, job losses or home foreclosures were at an increased risk of suicide during the financial crisis.
LONDON (CNNMoney)

The Great Recession caused at least 10,000 additional suicides in the United States, Canada and Europe, according to a study published Thursday.

And that's a conservative estimate, according to the research paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

"If we had an upper range, you could say ... 20,000," said David Stuckler, a sociology professor at the University of Oxford and senior author of the report.

The researchers found that suicides rates spiked sharply between 2008 and 2010 as millions lost their jobs and homes, and levels of debt surged.

The spike in suicide rates reversed a downward trend in Europe and Canada in the years before the crash.

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Some countries coped with the economic shock better than others, with suicide rates in Sweden and Austria remaining steady.

Stuckler said both countries had a good record of helping people find new jobs, a key factor in keeping suicide rates in check along with good mental health care.

They were also helped by having more women in the workforce.

Financial pain leads to suicide in Italy

Men are much more likely to take their own lives, and a culture that reduces the pressure on them as breadwinners can reduce the incidence of suicide.

"We think of gender equality as helping women, but it also helps men," said Stuckler.

Related: 26% of U.S. women still choose not to work

In late 2013, another study published in the British Medical Journal showed the financial crisis led to nearly 5,000 additional suicides in 2009 compared to the norm across 54 countries. The authors said that nearly the entire increase in suicides was from men taking their own lives.

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