Researchers say the Great Recession after the last Bush presidency is largely to blame for rising suicide rates. But even with the economic crisis behind, the number of middle aged people taking their own lives is still shocking.
The results of a new study are alarming regarding the relationship the Great Recession, which ignited in the wake of the George W. Bush presidency, and suicide rates. According to coverage by Newsweek, a team of researchers noted a sharp rise in people committing suicide in 2007, particularly among middle-aged men, 40-64. Data shows a relationship between the economic downturn and the numbers of people taking their own lives.
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Study authors, Katherine A. Hempstead and Julie A. Phillips, partnered to track down why suicide rates in both men and women are increasing in one age bracket, while remaining unchanged or stable in others. It’s important to note that deaths of this type have been increasing since 1999, but a dramatic rise was seen just before Obama took office.
“Evidence suggests that the downturn disproportionately affected the middle-aged in terms of house values, household finances, and hits to retirement accounts.”
Then, America was still at war overseas and the country was steeped in debt from the housing crisis, which was brought on largely in part by the rise of sub-prime mortgage loans and other financial factors. Many say it was made worse over the federal government’s practice of bank bailouts (“Too big to fail”).
The study found that rates of suicide were directly correlated to the reduction of salaries. Those aged 50-64 experienced nearly a 30 percent reduction in household income, whereas those aged 30-49 and over 65 only lost no more than 22 percent.
However, as with past studies, evidence showed that middle-aged workers were likely to be disproportionately affected because they were heads of households and breadwinners of the family, according to data derived from the study.
The hardship and feelings of failure or hopelessness associated with these conditions are compounded by the fact that middle-aged adults are more likely than others to be family breadwinners and supporting dependents.”
To illustrate: Rhode Island experienced a doubling of its unemployment rate between 2005 and 2010. As expected, the suicide rate in the state rose proportionately for those aged 40 to 64. But while the economy is usually a precursor to rising death rates, there are other factors involved in the calculus: relationships a suicidal person has with others health/medical issues.
The results of the study are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Authors seek to lessen suicide rates among Americans through improved heightened awareness and prevention programs.
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