Impact of the economic recession and subsequent austerity on suicide and self-harm in Ireland: An interrupted time series analysis

Int J Epidemiol. 2015 Jun;44(3):969-77. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv058. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Background: The recent economic recession has been associated with short-term increases in suicide in many countries. Data are lacking on the longer-term effect on suicide and on the impact on non-fatal suicidal behaviour.

Methods: Using interrupted time series analyses, we have assessed the impact of economic recession and austerity in Ireland on national rates of suicide mortality and self-harm presentations to hospital in 2008-12.

Results: By the end of 2012, the male suicide rate was 57% higher [+8.7 per 100,000, 95% confidence interval (CI), 4.8 to 12.5] than if the pre-recession trend continued, whereas female suicide was almost unchanged (+0.3 per 100,000, 95% CI, -1.1 to 1.8). Male and female self-harm rates were 31% higher (+74.1 per 100,000, 95% CI, -6.3 to 154.6) and 22% higher (+63.2 per 100,000, 95% CI, 4.1 to 122.2), respectively. There were 476 more male (95% CI, 274 to 678) and 85 more female (95% CI, -9 to 180) suicide deaths and 5029 more male (95% CI, 626 to 9432) and 3833 more female (95% CI, 321 to 7345) self-harm presentations to hospital in 2008-12 than if pre-recession trends had continued. Men aged 25-64 years were affected in terms of suicide and self-harm with the greatest impact observed in 25-44 year-olds. The increase in self-harm by women was among 15-24 year-olds.

Conclusions: Five years of economic recession and austerity in Ireland have had a significant negative impact on rates of suicide in men and on self-harm in both sexes.

Keywords: Suicide; economic recession; interrupted time series analysis; self-harm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Economic Recession*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / trends*
  • Unemployment / psychology*
  • Young Adult