Problem Gamblers Have 15% Higher Suicide Risk

Those who suffer from gambling issues are 15x times likelier to commit suicide, as per a new study. This report has prompted calls from multiple quarters, demanding the government’s swift action fo handle betting addiction.

Lund University Gambling Research

Researchers from Lund University, located in Sweden, monitored over 2000 people with a history of gambling disorders. They found that these participants had higher risks of committing suicide when compared to general population statistics, over a period of 11 years.

The study discovered suicide rates to have increased by 19 times among men aged 20-49 when they suffered from gambling issues and by around 15x times among women and men belonging to all ages.

This study’s authors stated that while reasons behind these suicides were quite complex, likely involving multiple problems, this study showed that gambling disorders had a definite link to elevated suicide rates.

Shocking UK Statistics

Campaigners discovered that when these findings were used in the UK, this indicated that over 550 gambling-related suicides were occurring each year, which translated to over 10 suicides every week. Liz and Charles Ritchie, who had founded Gambling With Lives, stated that this study confirmed their charity’s findings as well. The couple’s son Jack had committed suicide due to his gambling addiction spiraling out of control, aged 24.

They said that proper awareness & recognition were lacking regarding this problem’s magnitude, which was quite shocking. They requested government authorities to take prompt action and save lives.

Only a single specialist clinic for problem gambling exists in the United Kingdom. Another one is scheduled to open doors in Leeds. The government had pledged greater funding allocation for gambling addiction treatment in NHS services.

Former Sports Minister Crouch had stated that over 2 gambling-related suicides occurred every single working day. She had resigned the previous year due to delays in proposed curbs on FOBTs. That figure was quoted on the basis of a 2010 study conducted in Hong Kong, a city where rates of problem gambling are much higher than in Britain.

This estimate’s usage by various politicians, who include Lord Chadlington and others, has brought on severe criticism from thinktank analysts and betting sector consultants who are opposed to strict gambling regulation.

Swedish Gambling Study

However, this study, conducted in Sweden, had a larger number of participants and was conducted over a long period, monitoring people who committed suicide as well. Sweden also has a problem gambling prevalence rate similar to Britain at 0.5% based on the problem gambling severity index measurement, which rises to 1.6% upon including those having a moderate risk as well.

This report from Lund University stressed that while suicide factors were complex, the research’s findings were in line with their expectations that gambling played a key role.

Anders Hakansson of Lund University stated that this result wasn’t so surprising at all, based on his experience in a clinical setting. He’s a psychiatrist working for a gambling addiction unit. While many factors influenced suicide, some were more responsible than other factors, he said.

Due to co-morbidity, it was difficult to understand the role gambling played on an individual basis. Co-morbidity means that there are many overlapping factors present in people who commit suicide. For example, subjects diagnosed with gambling issues and depression had an increased risk of committing suicide. However, risks didn’t rise when substance abuse was added as well.

He stated that gambling was a strong factor leading to suicides. Due to debts becoming severe, it wasn’t uncommon for people to think only suicide was the way out, haunted by regrets of the pain they’ve caused their family members.