Methodological barriers to studying the association between the economic crisis and suicide in Spain

Javier Alvarez-Galvez, Jose A. Salinas-Perez, María Luisa Rodero-Cosano, Luis Salvador-Carulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The hypothetical relationship between economic recession and the increase in suicides in Spain is subject to various arguments. In addition to the inherent complexity of capturing and explaining the underlining mechanisms that could describe this causal link, different points of contention have been be identified. The period of this association and its possible starting points, the socioeconomic determinants that may explain the variation in suicide rate, and the data sources available are the main focus of controversy. The present study aims to identify the phases of association between different periods of economic recession and suicide rates, and compare the effect of different social determinants of health that have been mentioned in previous studies. Methods: We have used interrupted time series analyses to assess the impact of economic recession on national rates of suicide mortality provided by the Spanish Statistical Office (1980-2014). In an attempt to consider the factors that have affected the study of suicide in Spain, different data sources/periods, predictors, and regions in Spain were analysed. Results: The analysis revealed a positive and significant relationship between the Great Recession and suicide rates during the second period of economic recession (2011-2014), while appeared to decrease during the first recession period. However, the first decreasing trend was not statistically significant in the global analysis of the evolution of monthly suicide rates for the entire country. Both unemployment and per capita GDP were positively related to suicide trends. Finally, the regional analysis demonstrates a similar pattern in different Spanish areas. Conclusion: Although previous studies have mentioned the double-dip in the suicide rate associated with the corresponding period of double recession, our study only identify a positive relationship during the second recession period. These results points out that the major impact of economic problems might have had a delayed effect due to initial protection policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number694
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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