Tough Economy Increases Suicide, Family Violence
Suicide rates are expected to increase because of tough economic times says Sampson Blair, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo. This week, a family of four in Ohio, and a family of five in California became the apparent victims of a murder suicide, leading the sociologist to warn that a tough economy is likely to lead to an increase of suicide and murder-suicide tragedies among families.
According to Dr. Blair, "Family murder-suicide is still relatively uncommon, but I expect an increase in such incidents over the next few years because economic strain on families provokes depression and desperation." Researchers have long noted the negative impact of financial and job stress on families and individuals.
Living through a tough economy not only increases the risk of suicide, but other family dysfunction as well, including family violence, substance abuse and childhood neglect. According to Blair, "The economic situation also portends a significant increase in other forms of family violence, including spousal and child abuse, child neglect and other forms of dysfunctional behavior like substance abuse."
Dr. Blair says suicide rates are likely to increase two to three-fold because of the economic depression. Job loss, combined with loss of savings, and other family responsibilities are identifiable risks for suicide, and murder-suicide, and economic stresses can take its toll on other aspects of health.
Blair says, "Financial stressors are among the greatest risk factors for emotional disturbance and such physiological reactions as insomnia and high blood pressure."
Given the bleak forecast, Dr. Blair predicts "an increase in such incidents over the next few years because economic strain on families provokes depression and desperation."
A tough economy, leading to loss of jobs and savings, has the tragic potential to double or triple the incidence of suicides and family violence over the next few years. Awareness and early intervention are important if we are to avoid tragedies like the family murder-suicides reported in Ohio and California this week.