Suicide-poverty link is reinforced in new study

Strong links between suicide, attempted suicide and poverty have been found in a study of more than 11,000 patients over more than 10 years in Bristol.

The findings suggest that improving the circumstances of the least well- off is at least as important as any activity by the National Health Service if the Government's Health of the Nation target of cutting suicides is to be achieved.

The link between suicide and unemployment, and possible links between suicide and poverty, have been the subject of intense debate. Suicide has been increasing among young men and apparently rising in areas of sudden and high unemployment, although last year's figures do suggest an overall fall in the numbers killing themselves.

But a paper in this week's British Medical Journal shows powerful links, but not causative proof, that deprivation is strongly linked not only to suicides but to parasuicides - attempted suicides - and hospital admissions for acute mental illness.

The findings follow analysis of almost 1,000 suicides in the city over a 10-year period and the examination of thousands of hospital admissions for mental illness and parasuicide.

Suicide and parasuicide rates were between three and eight times higher in the inner city and other deprived wards of Bristol compared with the more pleasant wards, suburbs and surrounding towns. And there was a gradation - the higher the deprivation measures, the higher the suicide and parasuicide rates.

The difference persisted once allowance was made for age and sex differences between the different populations.

David Gunnell, a lecturer in public health medicine at the university, said the way the rates increased as areas became more deprived undermined past arguments that suicide rates were higher in inner cities only because the mentally ill tended to be attracted there by hostels, council housing and the anonymity of inner-city life.

Measures to decrease deprivation may therefore be more effective than health service interventions in preventing suicide, he said.

The link between poverty, suicide and attempted suicide appeared the strongest one, over and above the well-known factors of women and young girls being more likely to attempt suicide and men more likely to succeed, with the highest rates among men in those over 75.

Attempted suicide is 10 to 20 times more common than suicide, although between 30 and 47 per cent of successful suicides have a history of past tries. Between 3 and 10 per cent of parasuicides go on to kill themselves within 10 years of an attempt.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager

£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor - Automotive

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary - Family Law

£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing professional legal pr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Java

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting and disruptive co...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935