Suicide figures soar for Sweden’s disabled youth

Suicide rates have risen dramatically since 1995 among young people in Sweden with disabilities that leave them with reduced working capacities, according to a new study.

Between 1995 and 2010, the number of young people who were given compensation for disabilities that prevented them from working (aktivitetsersättning) soared from 5,000 to 12,000.

The suicide numbers within the same period grew from ten to 45, according to a new report published on Thursday by Kristina Alexandersson, Professor of Social Security (socialförsäkring).

It remains unclear exactly what the increase depends on, whether there is a higher morbidity rate among the young people receiving the benefits, whether the effects of getting the benefits have changed, or if the people are getting worse care than before.

“One can suspect that the risks for suicide grow when people don’t have a job to go to and are largely left alone, albeit with compensation but not something else,” Social Insurance Minister Ulf Kristersson told the TT news agency.

In Sweden, people with reduced working capacities can attend special needs schools, and can receive the compensation instead of working. Many of them have such severe illnesses and needs that they are never able to work. Particularly prevalent illnesses include depression, neurotic syndrome, and developmental disabilities.

An investigation is currently under way to determine if there is a better system than letting the students automatically get the compensation after finishing school.

Alexandersson, the author of the report, claimed that suicide attempts are a sign of mental instability, and that the hike in figures needed to be taken seriously.

“As they’ve been in contact with the healthcare system with their problems, there are opportunities to bring in preventive measures,” she said.

TT/The Local/og

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