From housing foreclosures to unemployment rates, much has been written about the financial pressures experienced by Americans during the recent recession. It comes as no surprise that such a financially beleaguered population is also exhibiting symptoms of mental health pressures. In particular, a recent report finds that the suicide rate in the United States rose sharply during the first few years of the recession. For every 1% increase in unemployment, the study found an increase in the suicide rate of roughly 1% as well. And, this trend was found in all regions of the country. Although suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, the report points out that the data are likely to be an indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders.
The silver lining is that the report also indicates that while many other countries exhibit this connection between financial pressure and suicide rates, some countries have avoided increases in suicides despite significant financial recessions, suggesting that policy research may suggest some preventative approaches. Determining what conditions might put a person at risk for or mitigate suicides in economically difficult times could, quite literally, save lives.
To read a New York Times article on this, click here.