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Unemployment and suicidal behaviour
  1. D Lester1,
  2. B Yang2
  1. 1Psychology Program, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, New Jersey 08240–0195, USA B Yang,
  2. 2Department of Economics and International Business, Bennett S Lebow College of Business, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D Lester; 

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The role of economic policy

In the mid-1980s, Stephen Platt published two reviews of the literature that indicated that unemployment was associated with an increased risk of completed suicide and an increased risk of attempted suicide (sometimes referred to as parasuicide).1,2 As we have pointed out, the association between unemployment and suicidal behaviour seems to be more reliable at the individual level than at the aggregate level.3 For example, in time series studies of 14 nations with available data for the period 1950–1985, Lester and Yang found a positive association between unemployment and completed suicide rates in only 10 nations, and this association was statistically significant in only four nations.4

The article by Tony Blakely and his colleagues in this issue of the journal provides excellent support for the association between unemployment and completed suicide at the individual level.5 The use of national records in a single country …

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