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Worries About the Recessions Real Cost—Suicide


There may be signs of the recession easing up however; suicide rates appear to be on the rise as people weigh out the real cost of the recession.

John White, a Coroner tracking rising numbers of suicides in northern Indiana believes that these deaths are linked to the recession. He hears the rumors of an economic recovery but where he lives, 22 people have killed themselves this year, and two more cases were likely suicides as people worry about the recession.

In more than a quarter of the cases, White said, distress caused by job loss or financial failure was cited as the last straw. “We have a real problem,” said White. “They left notes specifically stating that the reason they did this was because of the economy.” It appears worries bout the recessions real cost is suicide.

The rise in suicides is alarming not only in Indiana, which has been in recession since December 2006, but also in other regions of the country that also entered the downturn earlier. Federal figures on suicides during the current recession won’t be available for at least two years because of a lag in the way the deaths are collected and reported.

Currently suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in our nation and there are more suicides than homicides. Psychologists acknowledge that depressing financial forecasts may result in increasing numbers of suicides over the next year. "The suicide rate has already gone up, and my suspicion is that it will not go down," says Paula Clayton, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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But in some U.S. communities that went into recession as early as 2005 or 2006, the ongoing crisis has been accompanied by a worrisome rise in suicide deaths. These increased suicides are notable in places hardest-hit by the recession.

“Everyone needs to be more aware with the stresses of 17 percent to 18 percent unemployment,” noted White, the Elkhart coroner. “Everyone really needs to be aware of what’s going on.”

Thus far there hasn't been a link between suicide rates and the recessions, but there does seem to be a link with circumstances that come along with a recession, including unemployment and home foreclosure, said John L. McIntosh, a professor of psychology at Indiana University who researches suicide trends. People who’ve lost jobs kill themselves two times to four times more as those who are employed.

In a county where unemployment still tops 18 percent, twice the national rate, Hackel said he expects suicide to continue. “I try to be hopeful, but I have a feeling we’re going to be dealing with this for a long time,” Hackel said. It is important to get mental health help if you feel depressed or suicidal.

If you feel suicidal and need help call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth