Economic Ups and Downs Drive Up and Down Suicide Numbers

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There is a definitive connection between the economic environment and suicide rates it has been determined.

When the economy is going well incidents decrease, and whilst it is doing badly they increase.

This has been determined by a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention study that has just been published.

Stats Used

The study entitled Impact of Business Cycles on US Suicide Rates, 1928 -2007 took in key economic data pertaining to that 70 year period, and the cycles of boom and bust and suicide rise and fall that went along with them to conclude its findings.

It was determined by the study to seek out information also pertaining to the relationship between the ages of citizens, regarding the suicide rate in particular age brackets, coinciding with business cycles.

Prime Working Years

It was found that persons in the 25-64 year-old bracket i.e. prime working years, were most affected by business cycles with regard to their mental health.

Important Finding

The author of the study James Mercy PHD who is the acting director of CDC’s Injury Centres Division of Violence Prevention has declared that an important finding has been made with this research.

The research will now go on to be used for the development of policy, seeking to decrease the prevalence of suicide. James also noted how when the economy weakens, we now know that suicide will be more prevalent, this then gives us the impetus to ensure that additional suicide prevention measures are in place for a weakened economy.

Depression Time Boom Town

The main findings of the study were that in general the rate of suicide increases when there is a recession. This was determined through statistical analysis around the years of the Great Depression (1929-33) at the end of the New Deal (1937-38) and included the USA Double Dip Recession of (1980-82.)

So too it was found that the rate of suicide experienced a sharp drop during times where there was little economic hardship like the largest expansion period of the USA economy from (91-01.)

Largest Expansion

The Great Depression brought the largest expansion in suicide rates in USA history wherein the rate soared from 18 per 10,000 to 22.1 per 10,000. This was a massive 22% increase. The data demonstrated however, that the years of boom around the turn of the millennium had the lowest levels of suicide.

Age Change

The study also determined that amongst elderly groups (65-74 years and beyond but also including the middle aged to older groupings 55-64) these groupings saw the most significant decline in suicide rate levels during the period 1928-2007.

Impact on Self Worth

It was found that indeed economic problems can cause an impact to how people feel. It impacts how they are feeling about their future hopes. Economic downs play havoc with family and friends, combining to effect real negativity in the mindset. It can in effect disrupt the fabric of communities also.

How Data is to be Used

Feijun Luo PhD who is an economist in the Division of Violence Prevention, and also the key author of the study demonstrates how it is known that there is not just one reason behind suicide. A combination of a number of factors come together to illicit this negative response. He is positive however that there are a great many measures that can be applied to enact a change in these trends.

He pointed to the likes of prevention strategies and more of a focus on the making the individuals, families and neighbourhoods that are a part of wider communities capable of reducing the risk factor.

Social Support

These measures can include social support to those who have lost out as a result of economic malaise. Through offering counselling services to persons who have lost their jobs or their homes, change can be effected.

Protective Factors

So too a spirit of connectedness between individuals in communities can foster change. This can be done by formalising links to school and churches. The idea behind this is that the connectedness between people will put in place protective factors against suicidal behaviours and thoughts.

So too it is endeavoured that in the future there will be an increase in accessibility to services around prevention of suicide, like crisis centres. Those areas that are disproportionately affected by recession can be specifically targeted with prevention campaigns.

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1 Comment

  1. Shell
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I am not surprised by this at all, and I doubt anyone else is either. Having dealt with mortgage/credit companies etc they are even nastier than usual in such times, as they try to grasp back pennies from people who need it to eat, with no regard whatsoever for their ability to feed or shelter themselves. It is quite literally a national disgrace.

    Unfortunately in our society we have been taught to value ourselves (& our worth) by our ‘stuff’ rather than by our character, and whilst I think this is changing now for the ‘man on the street’ the greedy bankers are not learning this lesson well.

    Just remember, ecomonomic difficulty or not, you are still a worthwhile, lovable, and totally Amazing Person! Do not let them drag you down, it won’t change the outcome, and you deserve peace of mind and contentment. Owing money does not make you a bad person, and no-one should be treated (or made to feel) bad because of the worst economic situation in our lifetimes.

    Well, except the Bankers, but I won’t hold my breath! ;)

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