May 17, 2020

Financial crisis triggered increase in Europe suicides

suicide rate
credit crunch
2 min
Suicides in Europe have increased since the credit crunch
Suicide rates have increased by up to as much as 17 percent across Europe, a study has found. A trend in which suicides were continually falling year-o...

Suicide rates have increased by up to as much as 17 percent across Europe, a study has found.

A trend in which suicides were continually falling year-on-year across Europe has been reversed and researchers from the US and the UK believe the 2008 credit crunch is to blame.

They found incidences of suicide increased during 2007 to 2009, by between five and 17 percent in people who are of a working age and under 65.


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Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) was analysed as part of the study and looked at suicide rates in 10 European countries.

Greece saw the highest jump in suicides with a 17 percent increase and was followed by Ireland which had rise of 13 percent.

The economies of both Greece and Ireland were two of the worst-affected in Europe after the financial crisis and experts believe this explains the surge in suicides in these locations.

Austria was the only country where suicide rates continued to fall, with a five percent decrease in self-inflicted harm between 2007 and 2009.

The researchers said the results demonstrated a common pattern. They said: “This is consistent with historical studies that show immediate rises in suicides associated with 'early indicators' of crisis, such as turmoil in the banking sector, which precipitates later unemployment.”

During the years studied, unemployment rates across Europe increased by a third, rising by approximately 35 percent. 

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Jun 15, 2021

 NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance 

2 min
Queen Alexandra Hospital is trialling a new sepsis test by Presymptom Health that uses machine learning to detect the onset of the disease

A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England. 

Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year. 

The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time. 

From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.

Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction. 

Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.

The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years. 

If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.

Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”

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