This guest blog from CareKnowledge editor Jim Kennedy looks at a BMJ report into the link between the recession and an increase in suicides.

Recent research reported in the British Medical Journal makes for sobering reading, given that we are in a second phase of the recession, and events in Europe appear to promise an economic future that will look like one long night. Because the research finds that recent rises in suicide are linked to the earlier part of the recession, pointing to the particularly strong growth in regions worst affected by the economic downturn.

The report estimates that there were nearly 900 more suicides among men (and over 150 among women) between 2008 and 2010 than would have been suggested by historical trends. The report also suggests that the current programme of service cuts could make this picture even worse. On the slightly brighter side, it points to some evidence that policies to promote re-employment could begin to reverse this trend.

Leaving aside the non-economist’s question of when a recession turns into a depression, these figures are surely the most potent illustration of the real pain inflicted by a lack of growth and the most pressing argument yet for more action to stimulate recovery. 

Now, I know, and have followed, all the arguments about the lack of choice that confronts us and our powerlessness in the face of global economic realities, but what I object to is that, in this recession, those advancing those arguments have somehow also managed to minimise or sanitize the effects of the (necessary?) cold turkey we are going through.

Let’s for the moment accept that there is nothing more we can sensibly do to turn the economy round but let’s at the same time see some focus on the harsh realities of the consequences of economic stagnation. It’s only through recognising what is really happening to the most vulnerable and the poorest in our society that we can run a check on the policies we pursue.

To repeat, maybe there is nothing further we could do to stave off the effects of the international problems that beset us, but I think, without taking a party political stance on the issue at all, it is disappointing that there has been no Cathy Come Home or Boys from The Blackstuff to remind us of just how tough the current reality can be, especially, it seems, for men.