Advisors are routinely entrusted with safeguarding their clients’ financial health. But new research shows there is much more at stake. Automobile accident fatalities and suicide rates are closely correlated with stock market declines.

The evidence about suicide rates comes from a 2018 study by Tomasz Piotr Wisniewski of the University of Leicester and Brendan John Lambe of the De Montfort University in Leicester, Do Stock Market Fluctuations Affect Suicide Rates?

The research on car fatalities, also published earlier this year, was by Corrado Giulietti of the University of Southampton, Mirco Tonin of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, CESifo, Dondena Centre and IZA, and Michael Vlassopoulos of the University of Southampton and IZAin their paper, When the Market Drives You Crazy: Stock Market Returns and Fatal Car Accidents.

I’ll review what those papers found and then talk about the practical implications for advisors.

Suicides and stock market returns

Wisniewski and Lambe studied data from 36 countries (including the U.S.) for which both suicide rates and stock market returns were available. They used data from 1970 through 2014. They controlled for other variables that might explain suicide rates, such unemployment, inflation and health expenditures.