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Home > News and Reports > Surging UK personal debt taking its toll on the mentally ill
Nov 28, 2018
Surging UK personal debt taking its toll on the mentally ill

Suicide rates in the UK have skyrocketed since the recession, new figures alarmingly reveal.

Coroner reports have recently concluded that nearly 3,500 Britons took their own lives in 2012, marking a 15 per cent rise compared to 2007.

However, some local hotspots across the country have seen their suicide numbers increase by 100 per cent or more.

Campaigners and mental health experts have placed the blame on high unemployment rates, an increasing number of home repossessions, and a growing number of personal bankruptcies due to large sums of personal debt.

Years into a struggling recovery, many experts warn that the bleak future economic outlook could cause the trend to worsen in the coming years.

Jane Harris of Rethink Mental Illness, a charity for the mentally ill, said, “These figures are very worrying. In a time of recession, people are more liable to develop stress, anxiety and depression, and these conditions can lead to suicidal feelings.”

She continued, “They are more likely to be worried about money, keeping their jobs, about putting food on the table and paying their mortgage. People who already have a mental illness are especially vulnerable. We are now deeply concerned that the situation will only get worse over the next few years because it is clear that the full effects of the recession have yet to be felt.”

According to the latest coroner’s statistics, there was a seven per cent increase in the number of suicides last year, and there was a fifteen per cent increase since the credit crunch began in 2007.

Rory O’Connor, Stirling University professor and member of its Suicidal Behaviour Research Group, said, “Sadly, over many decades, there is evidence that suicide rates increase during times of recession. We know that people who are unemployed are at least twice as likely to take their own lives than those in employment. So, considering the current economic climate, the added strain on individuals and families is not surprising.”

“As a society, we need to ensure that there are social safety nets in place to help those who are vulnerable. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, from individuals and families to employers and governments,” he continued.

Stephen Pratt, trustee of the Samaritans charity and Edinburgh University’s professor of public health policy, said, “A recent survey of Samaritans’ helpline showed that calls about financial issues have doubled in the last three years. One in every five calls is now about job concerns, housing problems, debt, and other financial worries.”

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