LONDON — In a book to be released this month, professors David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu say suicide rates in both the United States and Britain increased after the end of 2007, which marked the beginning of the recession in the United States.
They calculate there were 4,750 “excess” suicides during the slump in the United States, compared with average rates before the recession. For Britain, they estimate a 1,000-suicide rise.
They also say use of antidepressant medicine rose 22 percent in Britain from 2007 to 2009. The number of Spanish patients with clinical symptoms of minor depression who visited doctors climbed to 48 percent of patients from 29 percent between 2006 and 2010.
The rate of HIV infection has risen in crisis-stricken Greece by more than 200 percent since 2011, driven by increased drug use via injection amid a 50 percent youth unemployment rate and reductions in HIV prevention budgets, they say in “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills.”
The Mediterranean nation also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades following reductions to mosquito-spray programs.
Oxford University’s Stuckler and Basu, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University near Palo Alto, Calif,, argue there could have been another approach.
During the Great Depression, each $100 of relief spending from the New Deal led to fewer deaths and cut suicides, they say.
Sweden also suffered an economic crash in the 1990s, as did Iceland more recently. Both countries maintained social welfare programs and saw no spurt in deaths.
“What we’ve learned is that the real danger to public health is not recession per se, but austerity,” the authors said.
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