The recession that began in 2007 and ended in 2009 has strongly affected suicide rates in the past five years. After banks failed to release new loans, in concert with higher interest rates and the foreclosure of over thousands of homes, , people have been reverting to suicide to deal with these problems. From 2007 to 2009, suicide rates rose from 10.8 deaths per 100,000 people (total=30,622) to 11.1 deaths per 100,000 people (total= 36,909). What’s worse is that the trend of rising suicide rates did not stop after the recession ended.
With record high levels of unemployment afflicting many areas of the country, many families can’t afford to keep up the payments on their homes or apartments. Some of these formerly middle-class families end up living on the streets. Psychologically, the financial providers of these families experience feelings of shame and humiliation at their inability to support their family. Left unabated, these feelings, especially in vulnerable individuals, can lead to clinical depression, which in turn triggers increased suicide rates.
What has the Obama administration done to fix this problem? The administration says they have created over 1 million jobs—a plus, at first glance- but then to offset this, local governments have closed down thousands of schools, thereby eliminating at least an equal number of jobs. The administration says they have increased federal loans to families that have good credit. But to attain good credit, one must have money to pay off bills—something many families can no longer do. The administration says they are trying to implement a new health care plan that will save families thousands of dollars a year on doctor visits. But this plan won’t take effect fully until 2014. How many more people, by then, will be driven by despair to suicide?
“U.S.A. SUICIDE: 2009 OFFICIAL FINAL DATA”, Mclintosh J.L., American association of suicidology, April 19, 2009.
“Killer economy”, January 13, 2009, Newsweeks. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/01/14/killer-economy.html
“Suicide Rates in U.S. Increase as Economy Declines, CDC Researchers Find”, Molly Peterson, April 14, 2011
“The legacy of a great recession”, April 27, 2012 http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3252
“Suicide rates up since recession began, debt a ‘way of life’ 99ers”, J. Harris, July 26, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/suicide-rates-up-since-re_n_658668.html
Student Researcher: Viraaj Patel, Siena College
Faculty Advisor- Maureen Hannah, Siena College