Money Matters - Simplified

Strong link between suicide and economy--CDC

According to the latest available data, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2007, causing 34,598 deaths.

The reasons behind suicide are complex. Isolation and depression are known to influence suicide rates but can economic distress trigger suicidal thoughts?

A startling new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the rate of suicide surge during times of economic devastation and seem to fade once economy bounces back.

The study found clear evidence that financial disasters like increasing debt, unemployment, sagging sales among other economic setbacks leave working Americans in despair, making them more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.

Lead author of the study, Feijun Luo, an economist in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, stated, “Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends.

“Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors.”

The suicide rate was at an all time high during the Great Depression when it surged to 22.1 per 100,000 people, whereas the lowest point came in 2000 when the economy was booming.

Analysis of data
In order to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between economic downturn and actual increase in suicide rate, researchers analyzed the data from 1928 to 2007, just before the beginning of the Great Recession.

The CDC report found a spike in suicide rates during periods such as the Great Depression of 1929-1933, the oil crisis in the 1970s and the recessions in the early 1980s.

On the other hand, fewer people killed themselves in periods of prosperity such as during World War II and between 1991 and 2001.

The suicide rate was at an all time high during the Great Depression when it surged to 22.1 per 100,000 people, whereas the lowest point came in 2000 when the economy was booming.

Suicide rates among people aged between 65 and 75 and over and those between 55 and 64 declined from 1928 to 2007.

Other findings of the report
According to the latest available data, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States in 2007, causing 34,598 deaths.

The CDC report found a strong link between economic recessions and suicides in people aged 25 and 64 years, the prime working ages.

James Mercy, the acting director of violence prevention at the CDC stated, "Knowing suicides increased during economic recessions and fell during expansions underscores the need for additional suicide prevention measures when the economy weakens.

"It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide."

The study was published online Thursday by the 'American Journal of Public Health.'