Published: 08-09-2014 10:00 | Updated: 08-09-2014 12:48

Young people who have attempted suicide disadvantaged on the job market

People who have attempted suicide when young are less likely to have a successful professional career later in life, according to a joint study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and MedUni Vienna, Austria. The prospect of long-term unemployment later in life threatens many people who have attempted suicide once or more. However, they make up an even larger proportion of the statistics for long-term sick leave and disability pensions.

Studies prove the connection between suicide attempts in young people and later unemployment. However, the effects on professional development are stronger than previously thought. In the current study, long-term unemployment (more than 180 days in a year) as well as long-term sick leave (more than 90 days in a year) and disability pensions, were carefully examined. The international research team also evaluated data from several Swedish registers. Since the sixties of last century, detailed data regarding the health system has been collected in Sweden. This data gives an overview of the entire population. For the study, the professional development of all 16-30 year olds (cut-off year 1994) who have attempted suicide was examined.

The study, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, shows a clear connection between suicide attempts and later difficulties in establishing oneself on the job market. People who attempted suicide once or more at the age of between 16 and 30 years, later had a 1.6 fold increased risk of long-term unemployment. An even greater tendency, shown for the first time by this study, is that of long-term sick leave (2.2 fold increase) and of disability pension (4.6 fold increase).

"Taking these results into consideration, it is very important to better understand the backgrounds that lead to the marginalisation of the job market," comments Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Insurance Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, who is also a Guest Professor at the MedUni Vienna. "This knowledge is absolutely essential to develop specially-tailored programmes for job market inclusion."

The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council and FORTE. Researchers from Columbia University in the U.S. also took part in the study work.


Future risk of labour market marginalisation in young suicide attempters – a population-based prospective cohort study
Niederkrotenthaler T, Tinghög P, Alexanderson K, Dahlin M, Beckman K, Gould M, Wang M, Mittendorfer-Rutz E
International Journal of Epidemiology, online 7 August 2014, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyu155