Background: The recent economic recession has been associated with short-term increases in suicide in many countries. Data are lacking on the longer-term effect on suicide and on the impact on non-fatal suicidal behaviour.
Methods: Using interrupted time series analyses, we have assessed the impact of economic recession and austerity in Ireland on national rates of suicide mortality and self-harm presentations to hospital in 2008-12.
Results: By the end of 2012, the male suicide rate was 57% higher [+8.7 per 100 000, 95% confidence interval (CI), 4.8 to 12.5] than if the pre-recession trend continued, whereas female suicide was almost unchanged (+0.3 per 100 000, 95% CI, -1.1 to 1.8). Male and female self-harm rates were 31% higher (+74.1 per 100 000, 95% CI, -6.3 to 154.6) and 22% higher (+63.2 per 100 000, 95% CI, 4.1 to 122.2), respectively. There were 476 more male (95% CI, 274 to 678) and 85 more female (95% CI, -9 to 180) suicide deaths and 5029 more male (95% CI, 626 to 9432) and 3833 more female (95% CI, 321 to 7345) self-harm presentations to hospital in 2008-12 than if pre-recession trends had continued. Men aged 25-64 years were affected in terms of suicide and self-harm with the greatest impact observed in 25-44 year-olds. The increase in self-harm by women was among 15-24 year-olds.
Conclusions: Five years of economic recession and austerity in Ireland have had a significant negative impact on rates of suicide in men and on self-harm in both sexes.