The Samaritans have published a report linking higher risk of suicide with inequality, and calling for greater awareness of the risks of suicide and for direct support to those with unstable employment, insecure housing, low income or in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.
Socioeconomic disadvantage is a key risk factor for suicidal behaviour, and ‘Dying from Inequality’ seeks to explain the reasons why.
It highlights that:
- Areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation tend to have higher rates of suicide.
- Men are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of economic recession, including suicide risk, than women.
- People who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than those in employment.
- Increases in suicide rates are linked to economic recessions.
- The greater the level of deprivation experienced by an individual, the higher their risk of suicidal behaviour.
- The least skilled occupations (eg construction workers) have higher rates of suicide.
- A low level of educational attainment and no home ownership increase an individual’s risk of suicide
The report makes the following recommendations:
- Prevention strategies need to target efforts towards the most vulnerable
- People and places, in order to reduce geographical inequalities in suicide.
- Effective cross-governmental approaches are required, with mental health services improved and protected. Suicide prevention needs to be a government priority in welfare, education, housing and employment policies.
- Workplaces should have in place a suicide prevention plan, and provide better psychological support to all employees, especially those experiencing job insecurity or those affected by downsizing.
- Poverty and debt need to be destigmatised so that individuals feel valued and able to access support without fear of being judged.
- Every local area should have a suicide prevention plan in place. This should include the development and maintenance of services that provide support to individuals experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage.
- Staff and volunteers in services accessed by socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals or groups should receive specialist training in recognising, understanding and responding to individuals who are in distress and may be suicidal (even if they do not say they are feeling suicidal).
- People bereaved or affected by suicidal behaviour, and therefore at higher risk of suicide themselves, should be offered tailored psychological, practical and financial support particularly in disadvantaged communities.
You can read the full report on the Samaritans website.