Mariarosaria Comunale, 23 August 2020

Historically, Lithuania has had very high suicide rates, especially among its male population. This column aims to shed light on possible factors linked to the high suicide rates in the Baltic states and specifically in Lithuania. Factors with the strongest links to suicide rates in the region include GDP growth, demographics, alcohol consumption, psychological factors and climate temperature. For Lithuania specifically, other macroeconomic variables (especially linked to the labour market) may also matter. The percentage of rural population is not a key robust factor.

Eudora Ribeiro, 12 August 2020

Fear and imposed isolation due to COVID-19 have raised alarms about the impact on mental health on a global scale. The severe anticipated global recession and substantial increases in unemployment and indebtedness are both risk factors for suicide. This column reviews past similar scenarios of pandemics and recessions and its links to suicide. The recipe for preventing suicide amidst the COVID-19 pandemic includes investment in mental healthcare, such as providing suicide prevention services, and active employment policies.

Michael Reich, 23 August 2019

The US has an epidemic of "deaths of despair". Michael Reich tells Tim Phillips that new research implies that a $15 minimum wage doesn't just cut poverty, it also saves lives. But is Congress listening?

William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Chris Lowenstein, Michael Reich, 07 July 2019

Policymakers and researchers have sought to understand the causes of and effective policy responses to recent increases in mortality due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide in the US. This column examines the role of the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit – the two most important policy levers for raising incomes for low-wage workers – as tools to combat these trends. It finds that both policies significantly reduce non-drug suicides among adults without a college degree, and that the effect is stronger among women. The findings point to the role of economic policies as important determinants of health. 

Anne Case, Angus Deaton, 18 July 2015

High suicide rates are often cited as evidence of social failure. Despite this, some countries and regions that do very well in terms of happiness have among the highest suicide rates. This column explores this paradox using global data on suicide and self-reported life satisfaction. Although the paradox is confirmed for Eastern European and wealthy countries, inconsistent patterns emerge when other demographic factors are taken into account. This might reflect the empirical difficulty of explaining suicide, but might also be indicative of the unreliability of self-reports of happiness.

Matthew Lang, 06 October 2017

The majority of recent US bills loosen gun restrictions, thus rekindling the discussion about the relationship between guns and crime. This column presents research that investigates the effect of gun control on suicide. Using background checks as a proxy for gun ownership, the study finds a positive link between the access to guns and firearm suicide rates. This suggests that an increased availability of a particular suicide method can lead to more suicides.

Sascha O. Becker, Ludger Woessmann, 15 January 2012

Does religion affect suicide? This column presents new evidence from 19th century Prussia showing that suicide rates are much higher in Protestant than in Catholic areas, and that this reflects a causal effect of Protestantism. It also suggests that economic modelling can help understand why this is so.

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