Unemployment kills and the CDC can prove it
Looking at overall suicide rates between the years 1928–2007, the Center for Disease Control reports suicide rates will rise or fall depending on the economy.
The “Impact of Business Cycles on the U.S. Suicide Rates, 1928–2007″ study, released by the CDC last year, finds that suicide rates are connected to the economy. Researchers examined relationships between age-specific suicide rates and business cycles, and discovered the strongest association between business cycles and suicide among people in “prime working ages,” considered to be the 25-64 year old range.
“It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide,” says James Mercy, Ph.D., acting director of the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention.
“Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends,” said lead author, Feijun Luo, Ph.D., an economist in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention. “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 risk factors.”
Since no one can know how long this current downturn will be, the SPRC is suggesting an increased effort by public and private sector leaders to push high-quality programs for the unemployed and those in foreclosure.
Also suffering with unemployment are the recently returned military, according to an opinion piece last year in the New York Times by Peter D. Kramer, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University and author of Listening to Prozac and Against Depression. Kramer says that almost 27 percent of male veterans, 18 to 24, are unemployed.
There is no substitute for the structure, support and meaning that jobs offer, Kramer believes.