Year: 2023 Source: European Journal of Public Health. (2023). SIEC No: 20230751
Background Major sporting events are postulated to reduce suicide rates by increased social connectedness, by identifying with winning teams, or, conversely, to increase suicide rates by the ‘broken promise effect’. Methods In our observational epidemiological study, we investigated changes in suicide rates between 1970 and 2017 in Austria, Germany and Switzerland during the European and World Soccer Championships in general, and on days that the home team played, won or lost. Results Combining all three studied nations no statistically significant change in the incidence of daily suicides during soccer championships compared to a control period was noted (38.29 ± 9.02 vs. 37.33 ± 10.58; incidence risk ratio = 1.03; 95% confidence interval: 1.01–1.05, P = 0.05). Essentially, no differences in the expected directions were found, and none remained statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons in subgroups for country, age and gender in all three studied countries. Compared to a control period, neither a significant difference in the respective national suicide rate was found after Germany’s four championship victories nor after Austria’s emotional only win over Germany. Conclusion Our results do not support the assumption of increased social connectedness and, thus, lowered suicide risk during major sporting events or changes in suicide risk depending on the outcome of important games as predicted by the broken promise effect or changes in self-efficacy by identification with winning teams.