Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Trends in suicide and unemployment in Scotland, 1976-86.

British Medical Journal 1989; 298 doi: (Published 25 March 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;298:782
  1. I. K. Crombie
  1. Department of Community Medicine, University of Dundee Medical School, Ninewells Hospital.


    To establish whether a correlation exists between unemployment and suicide the trends in the rates of both among men in Scotland during 1976-86 were studied. Both rates showed rapid increases in the late 1970s and then much slower increases after 1982. In contrast, among women, although the rate of unemployment followed a similar pattern, there was a gradual fall in the rate of suicide. The trends in regional unemployment for men during 1971-81 were compared with the suicide rates for the period before the increase (1974-7) and the period after the rapid increase (1983-6). No association was observed between trends in suicide and unemployment when analysed by health board areas or aggregates of local government districts. These data do not support the hypothesis that the rise in unemployment is a direct cause of the rise in suicide rates among men.