Can government responses to unemployment reduce the impact of unemployment on suicide? A systematic review
Shand, F., Duffy, L. & Torok, M.
Background: Unemployment is a well-documented risk factor for suicide. Findings from a number of studies suggest that government policy plays a crucial role in mediating the unemployment–suicide relationship. Aims: Our review was designed to assess whether government policies aimed at managing unemployment can moderate the impact of unemployment on suicide and self-harm. Method: A systematic search of the Medline, ProQuest, Scopus, and Web of Science databases was conducted. All original, English-language, peer-reviewed studies examining the impact of unemployment policy on rates of suicide or self-harm were eligible for inclusion. Results: Six unique studies were identified, each using an ecological design and suicide deaths as the outcome. Three of five studies looking at unemployment benefits found a negative association with suicide rates. Studies examining the impact of active unemployment policy and employment protection legislation found evidence of beneficial effects. The effects of the policies were small and had particular benefit in reducing suicide rates among men. Limitations: The ecological designs used may limit conclusions around causality. It is unclear whether the findings generalize to those in lower- and middle-income countries. Conclusion: The findings suggest that unemployment policies can mitigate the relationship between unemployment and suicide, particularly among men.