Previous studies have shown a positive association between unemployment and attempted suicide. This study investigated transitions of employment status among suicide attempters during the severe economic recession. The main research question was whether inequality in the labour market also prevails among as selected a population as suicide attempters. The material consisted of 2495 persons who attempted suicide during 1989-1994 in Helsinki, Finland. Logistic regression analysis and survival analysis were used. Unemployment rates among suicide attempters were higher than in the general population, male rates being higher than female rates throughout the recession. There were significant changes in the employment status of the entire attempted suicide population from 1989 to 1994, especially in terms of the transition from employment to unemployment. Gender, age and education level predicted exit from the labour market. Among suicide attempters young middle-aged men with low education had the highest risk of unemployment.