Background Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide, three-quarters of which are males. Economic factors influence suicide rates, but a worldwide perspective of their impact according to age and sex is lacking. Method We queried publicly available datasets on economic factors and on suicide rates stratified according to sex and age, from 1991 to 2017, for 175 countries. Thus, we analyzed approximately 21 million deaths by suicide using a multivariable regression model approach. Results Every 1% increase in global unemployment rates is associated with a 1% upsurge in male deaths by suicide (Relative risk (RR) = 1.01 [CI 95% 1.00–1.01] with respect to females) or 5000 excess male deaths. A 1% higher unemployment rate also exerts age-specific effects on suicide rates, since, among adults aged 30–59, the suicide rate is increased by 2–3%. Lastly, for every 1000 US dollar increase in the GDP per capita, suicide rates are reduced by 2% (RR = 0.98 [0.98–0.98]), corresponding to a reduction of 14,000–15,000 suicide deaths per year globally. Conclusions Males who have lost their jobs in adulthood are those at higher risk of suicide and to whom financial support measures should be delivered in a timely manner.