Abstract

Lewis G, Sloggett A. Suicide, deprivation and unemployment: record linkage study. British Medical Journal 1998; 317: 1283-1286.

Objectives: To investigate the association between suicide and socioeconomic status, unemployment, and chronic illness. Design: Longitudinal study. Setting: England and Wales. Subjects: Individuals from the Office for National Statistics longitudinal study for whom 1981 Census data were available. The longitudinal study is a representative 1% sample of the population of England and Wales in which census variables are linked to mortality data. Results: There was a strong independent association between suicide and individuals who were unemployed (odds ratio 2.6; 95% confidence interval 2.0 to 3.4) and permanently sick (2.5; 1.6 to 4.0). Those without access to a car had an increased risk (1.3; 1.0 to 1.5), but other measures of socioeconomic status were not associated with suicide. Conclusions: The association between suicide and unemployment is more important than the association with other socioeconomic measures. Although some potentially important confounders were not adjusted for, the findings support the idea that unemployment or lack of job security increases the risk of suicide and that social and economic policies that reduce unemployment will also reduce the rate of suicide.