The economic stress and uncertainty of Brexit can increase suicide rates, according to new research from Nottingham Trent University.

The findings revealed that the average suicide rate increased significantly in the aftermath of the financial crisis for all sex and age groups and found that the effect was stronger for females than for males.

Relentless negative reporting on economic downturns is impacting on people’s emotions and contributing to the suicide rate, according to the new research.

The findings are from Professor Alan Collins of Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University and Dr Adam Cox from the University of Portsmouth.

Alan Collins, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Nottingham Business School, said:“People have a ‘gut feeling’ of how their situation may progress and constant negative announcements, reporting and media communication have an impact on this.

“Beliefs about future unemployment can also be exacerbated by social media. These relentless messages depress consumer sentiment and raise suicidality, whereas an increase in consumer sentiment makes people more optimistic, which dissuades them from engaging in suicidal behaviour.”

This research suggests that negative reporting on Britain’s economy and matters such as Brexit could be impacting on suicide rates.

The study took into account the 2007 financial crash and global financial crisis to explore “consumer sentiment”, the emotional reaction and the way people perceive their economic situation to unfold, such as expecting to lose their employment.

There was also a correlation between the measure of the consumer’s perceptions of their financial situation and of the economy in general – and the average suicide rate.

Results showed that a more positive consumer outlook on personal finance and the economy in general, lowers the rate.

Dr Adam Cox, principal lecturer in Economics and Finance at Portsmouth Business School, added: “We also tested the impact of state public and health expenditures and found no evidence to suggest that increased spending lowers suicide.

“Taken together, these results pose some awkward questions for policymakers, especially in the context of justifying mental health expenditure budgets and communicating economic policy that affects consumers.”