working age the SMR for subjects seeking employment (first and new, about 25049 subjects) stands at 125, based on 83 observed deaths (CL 95 per cent 100-56). Despite the scantiness of these findings, this slight excess in mortality can, in part, be accounted for by an appreciable suicide risk (9 observed against an expectation of 3.16, SMR = 284, CL 95 per cent 130-541), comparable to the risk level ascertained among males.
Furthermore, it is found among young people who have never had a job and who were looking for work at the last census (9946 boys and 13 879 girls) that there is a significant excess death rate due to accidental and violent causes (male SMR = 145, 32 observed deaths, CL 95 per cent 99-205; female SMR = 176, 18 observed deaths, CL 95 per cent = 104-277). These excesses can be partly explained by eleven deaths due to drug overdose (six males, five females), compared with three expected cases of accidental poisoning.
In conclusion, the Turin Longitudinal Study reveals that the risk of death due to accidental or violent causes among males (including suicide and comparable accidental death, e.g. drug overdose) who have lost their jobs and are seeking new ones is double the risk for the rest of the Turin population of the same age. This finding is confirmed by results regarding unemployed women.
The increased risk does not appear to be an effect of the selection of the subjects prone to accidental or violent death among the unemployed. Moreover, the risk increases as unemployment is protracted, and this cannot be attributed to the different age and social class distribution that distinguish the unemployed from the rest of population.
Finally, this risk pattern tallies in structure and degree with a similar pattern emerging from initial analyses of mortality among the English unemployed between 1981 and 1983 ( Moseret al. 1987). We may, therefore, reasonably suppose that unemployment plays a role, albeit a possibly indirect one, in the formation of the risk pattern.
Barraclough, B., Bunch, J., Nelson, B. and Sainsbury, P. ( 1974). "'A Hundred Cases of Suicide: Clinical Aspects'", British J. Psychiatry, 125, 355-73.
Crepet, P. and Florenzano, F. ( 1988). "'Suicide and Unemployment in Italy'", in H. J. Moller, A. Schmidtke and R. Welz (eds.), Current Issues of Suicidology, Berlin: Springer-Verlag.