Increased suicide rates are seen with home foreclosures: see who is at risk

Harold Mandel's picture
Fight suicides

The economic situation in the United States has been unstable for a long time. This is causing an increase in emotional problems for those hit the hardest by financial hardships. In fact recent research has shown there is an association between home foreclosures and suicides.

It is likely that the home foreclosure crisis has contributed to increased suicide rates reported the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers have examined the association which exists between state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010. They have considered the variation in the effect of foreclosure on suicide as seen by age.

Suicide vs Foreclosure Link Strongest in Middle-Aged

There was an association found between the within-state total foreclosure rate and within-state increase in the crude suicide rate. The effects were found to be the strongest among the middle-aged who were between 46–64. It has been concluded that the foreclosure crisis is probably associated with increased suicides. This finding appears to be independent of other economic factors which are associated with the recession. The bottom line is rising foreclosure rates may be partly responsible for the recent increase in suicide among middle-aged adults.

In fact the recent U.S. foreclosure crisis has contributed significantly to the nation’s dramatic increase in suicides reports Dartmouth College in a discussion of this research. According to a new study which was done by Dartmouth and Purdue University professors the recent U.S. foreclosure crisis has contributed greatly to the nation’s rise in suicides.


This observed increase in suicides has been independent of other economic factors which have been associated with the Great Recession. This is the first study which has showed a correlation between foreclosure and suicide rates. During the period between 2005 to 2010 the suicide rate in the U.S. increased by about 13 percent. In 2010 the number of annual home foreclosures hit a record of 2.9 million.

Foreclosures set off feelings of shame and loss

Co-author of the study Jason Houle, an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth, says foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways. The loss of a home clearly has a great negative impact on individuals and families and can set off feelings of loss, regret and shame. Entire communities are also negatively affected by rising foreclosure rates. Stresses in communities are increased in association with an increase in crime, abandoned homes, and a horrible sense of insecurity.

Clearly a lot of people will point to the need for another try at dramatic political reforms to help the United States deal with the unprecedented financial problems which have been associated with increased home foreclosures. However, revolutionary political changes are often slow in coming and there are no guarantees a new administration in Washington will be able to cope any better with the nation's fiscal crisis.

Support is needed to develop sense of self-worth

In the meantime the suicide crisis associated with poor economic conditions and home foreclosures is critical at this time. In order to save lives more aggressive mental health support must be offered from humane mental health professionals. There should be efforts to help patients develop a sense of self-worth that over-rides economic problems of this nature which are often beyond their control.

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