People battling gambling addictions are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population, a new study has found.
Academics at Lund University, Sweden, monitored more than 2,000 problem gamblers over an eleven year period – the largest study of its kind.
It comes as the UK Government is being called on to tighten gambling regulations as the number of problem gamblers grows.
The study showed that though the causes of suicide were complex, there was a significant link between gambling addiction and higher rates of suicide.
The risk for men aged between 20 and 49 is even higher, with suicide rates 19 times greater than the general population.
The charity Gambling with Lives said: “The lack of recognition of the scale of this problem has been shocking and we call on the government to take immediate action to save lives.”
Anders Hakansson, Professor of Addiction Medicine at Lund University, said: “To us it’s not a surprising result based on what we see and hear in the clinical setting.”
In 2015, 23-year-old Josh Jones jumped to his death from the ninth floor of his office building after battling a serious gambling addiction.
He used his student loan to gamble, and started taking out pay-day loans when his parents took control of his money in an effort to help him.
Josh owed around £30,000 to banks, loan companies, family and friends when he ended his life.
‘How many more?’
Two years later, Daniel Clinkscales from Devon, who began gambling on fruit machines, committed suicide after losing his entire £43,000 income to gambling addiction in the year before his death.
Josh’s father Mr Jones said: “How many more deaths are needed before gambling addiction is taken more seriously?”