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BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 13 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4338

Researchers blame financial crisis for extra suicides in Europe

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A preliminary look at European national statistics shows a clear increase in suicide rates since the economic downturn in 2008. Countries such as Greece and Ireland that were hardest hit economically saw the biggest increases in suicides (17% and 13%) between 2007 and 2009, the last year for which data are available. Among the 10 member states in the analysis, only Austria bucked the trend. Here, suicide rates fell by around 5% over the same period. It is not yet clear why, although a strong social safety net may have helped, say the study’s authors.

Unemployment rose sharply during the economic crisis, and these authors predicted in 2009 that more suicides would follow. They also predicted a drop in road traffic deaths because fewer people could afford to keep a car on the road. The latest figures suggest they were right, although road traffic deaths fell fastest and furthest in newer member states, where death rates had been high before the economic crisis. In Lithuania, fatalities halved between 2007 and 2009.

These authors had complete mortality data for only 10 European member states, and only until 2009. Governments are much better at tracking financial indicators than they are at monitoring the health of their populations, say the authors. These analyses are already two years behind.

Pelvic floor training sessions fail to improve incontinence after prostate surgery

Incontinence is common after prostate surgery, and pelvic floor exercises are often recommended. One to one training sessions with specialist physiotherapists or nurses encouraged more men to do these exercises, but they had no effect on their symptoms or quality of life, in a matching pair of trials that compared the extra sessions with usual care. One trial recruited men who were incontinent six weeks after a radical prostatectomy for prostate …

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