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Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study on the impact of the economy on suicide rates in the United States and found that the increase and decline in incidents happens in conjunction with the flux of the national economy. The study was released online by the American Journal of Public Health as of April 14, 2011. The CDC report is called “Impact of Business Cycles in the U.S. Suicide Rates, 1928-2007” and its main finding was the significant link between business cycles and suicide among the those of working ages 25-65.
“Knowing suicides increased during recessions and fell during expansions underscores the need for additional suicide prevention measures when the economy weakens,” said James Mercy, Ph.D. acting director of CDC’s Injury Centers Division of Violence Prevention. “It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide.”
The study builds its case on historical factors – the overall suicide rate soared during recession periods such as the Great Depression (1929-1933), which was triggered by the catastrophic collapse of the stock market on the New York Exchange and during the New Deal (1937-1938). Other significant periods in American history proved to be the Oil Crisis (1973-1975) when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo – and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982) when the economy was in recession for the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 1980. On the other hand, the suicide rates declined during economic expansion periods such as World War II (1939-1945) and during the years between 1991 and 2001 which marked the nation’s longest expansion period.
The Great Depression (1929-1993) was the overall highest suicide rate that soared to 18.0 in 1928 to 22.1 in 1932. As a result of the Great Depression, the suicide rate continued to increase to an overall high of 22.8 for 4 years –the longest period in history. The suicide rate declined to the lowest point in 2000. During (1928-2007) the CDC study discovered that the two elderly age groups 55-64 and 65-75 the suicide rates declined.
“Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends. Economics downturns can also disrupt entire communities,” said Feijun Luo, Ph.D., an economist in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention and the study’s lead author. “We know suicide is not caused by any one factor – it is often a combination of many that lead to suicide. But there are many opportunities for prevention. Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce the risk factors.”
With raising gas prices, increase in food costs, and staggering unemployment there are strategies to prevention of suicide. Accessible to crisis centers, social support groups, counseling centers and other community services are for those who lost their homes or jobs. Reaching out to family members, communities, churches, and mental health care system are available to protect against suicidal thoughts and behaviors. For more information regarding suicide prevention contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. www.afsp.org.