Press release: Lancet response July 2011

Samaritans commented on research published in The Lancet linking the world financial crisis to an increase in suicides across Europe.

Spokesman Joe Ferns said:

"Economic recession, especially when it is sudden and severe, like this recent financial crisis, does often lead to an increase in suicide rates. People who have lost their jobs become more vulnerable to suicidal thinking. They are two to three times more likely to take their lives than people in employment.

"But those still in work can feel threatened too. The fear of losing your job and pressures, such as a downturn in business, reduced working hours or threats to your pension plan, can be bad for your mental health and increase the risk of suicide.

“Financial difficulty can contribute to the breakdown of even the strongest relationships with friends and family. People may rely more heavily on alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism and it is well established that excessive alcohol consumption and drug misuse increase suicide risk.

“We urge anyone struggling to cope or feeling distressed to share their problems rather than letting them get out of control. Talk to your family, friends and colleagues or, if you feel you can’t do this, contact us.”

Samaritans is contacted 2.7 million times a year by phone, email, letter and in face-to-face contact. A YouGov poll for the charity last year found that 57 per cent of people in the UK  feared not having enough money to live comfortably, with well over a third (37%) worried about losing their jobs or having difficulty finding work.

The poll of more than 2,000 people identified money as one of the nation’s biggest concerns as well, with more than half (53%) saying it was one of their top-five worries.


Notes to editors:

For interviews or more information, please contact Robert Westhead in Samaritans Press Office on 020 8394 284 / 07917 201220 or email

A full national and regional breakdown of the 2010 survey can be found here:

People can contact Samaritans for emotional support by phone on 116 123, email on or face-to-face at one of the UK’s 201 local branches. Log on to for more information.