Unemployment link to suicide

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The Independent Online
HIGH suicide rates and mental health problems are closely associated with mounting unemployment, according to clinical psychologists who are being 'inundated' with unemployed people suffering from depression.

Before the recession, waiting lists varied between six months and two years. Now the backlog is worse, senior members of the British Psychological Society said yesterday. In a special session arranged to raise awareness of the problem among ministers, society members said that many of their colleagues were forced to keep quiet about the situation for fear of losing their own jobs. Staff at independent hospital trusts were often banned from speaking to the press on pain of dismissal, the psychologists said. The cause of suicides, anxiety and depression was rarely given as unemployment, but it was closely associated with psychological disturbance.

Dr Dilys Davies, who works as a clinical psychologist in Warwickshire, said: 'We rarely see the reason given for depression as unemployment, but a cursory assessment often shows that the cause is unemployment or the threat of it.' She said that unemployment frequently resulted in 'devastating trauma'.

Men in their fifties who had been made redundant from professional jobs found it particularly hard to adjust. In previous recessions, the middle class had almost seen unemployment as an opportunity to change career. This time there was an acute shortage of jobs at all levels.

Middle-class men tended to 'internalise' their worries to a greater extent. But the impact of unemployment was felt by all classes equally, Dr Davies said. The stress on working-class people was magnified by poverty.

In an ideal world, workers would be prepared for unemployment before they left their jobs, and Dr Davies called for such counselling in the mining industry.

Dr David Fryer, senior lecturer in psychology at Stirling University, Scotland, said the scale of the problem was 'quite horrendous'.

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