Global financial crisis linked to higher death rate

The current financial crisis is having a major impact on European economies, especially that of Spain. Past evidence suggests that adverse macro- economic conditions exacerbate mental illness, but evidence from the current crisis is limited.

Photo: Global financial crisis linked to higher death rate

However, in a recent study (Lopez bernal et al, European Journal of Public Health, 2013) to analyse the association between the financial crisis and suicide rates in Spain between 2005 and 2010, the researchers identified an 8.0% increase in the suicide rate since the financial crisis.

A control analysis showed no change in deaths from accidental falls associated with the crisis, which improves validity and liability of the research work. Males, and those of working age, may be at particular risk of suicide associated with the crisis and may benefit from targeted interventions.

Another article, published this year (El Triangle, September 2013) by J Palomés, pointed out that, according to data from the Spanish Psychiatric Association, there has been a 50% increase in suicide rates in Spain over the last three decades, jumping from 10 suicides per 100,000 population to 15/100,000.

It is true that data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics only reports 3,180 suicides in Spain for the year 2011 (a 7/100,000 rate), but in all probability the numbers are under-represented. The Catalonia Institute for Legal Medicine estimates increases of suicides rates, from 2009 to 2011 in Greece (37%), Ireland (16%) and Italy (58%).

Increase of antidepressants
According to Spanish Ministry of Health data, the use of antidepressants and benzodiazepines increased from 5.1% of the Spanish population in 2005, up to a 15% in 2012 – and even these data may not identify self- prescriptions, a reality we all know happens on a daily basis.

Recently, The Spanish Consumer Organisation estimated 29% of Spaniards have used antidepres sants or anxiolytics sometime in the past in order to treat depressions and anxiety disorders. This evidence is stunning and, of course, reflects the high level of suffering for patients and families, as well as economic costs (including medications, use of medical services and labour losses), which even further deteriorates the health and welfare situations of Spaniards. If we add to this cocktail the fact that Spanish Healthcare Services are suffering shortages, the conclusion will can only be that global healthcare problems need global, complex and efficient solutions.

Politicians as well as healthcare professionals must act.

29.10.2013

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