The recent recession may have led to thousands of extra suicides, say researchers.

The financial crisis has been linked to more than 10,000 people taking their lives across Europe and North America between 2008 and 2010 during the financial crisis, a study suggests.

Research published in the British Journal Of Psychiatry shows suicide rates "rose significantly" after the 2007 crash. Experts said the increase was four times higher among men.

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They analysed data from the World Health Organisation about suicides in 24 EU countries, America and Canada.

Between 2007, when the economic crisis began, and 2009, suicide rates in Europe rose 6.5 per cent, they found. The rates remained at this elevated level to 2011.

This corresponds to an additional 7950 suicides than would have been expected across these EU countries, they said.

Before the recession suicide rates had been falling in Europe, they noted.

In addition, suicide rates in Canada and the US rose 4.5 per cent and 4.8 per cent, respectively, during the same time.

Overall, there were at least 10,000 additional suicides as a result of the economy's downward slide, the authors said. But they said this was a "conservative" estimate.

Job loss, home repossession and debt are the main risk factors leading to suicide during economic downturns, they said.

Co-author Professor David Stuckler, of Oxford University, said: "In these hard economic times, this research suggests it is critical to look for ways of protecting those likely to be hardest hit."