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Depression Health Center

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Suicides Go Up When Economy Goes Down

Since the Great Depression, Hard Economic Times Have Driven Up Suicide Rates, Study Finds

Business Cycles Influence How People Feel

“Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends,” Feijun Luo, PhD, a CDC economist and the study’s author, says in a news release. “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.”

He says prevention strategies should focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods, and entire communities in order to reduce risk factors.

The CDC report suggests strategies to reduce or prevent suicides during hard times:

  • Provide social support and counseling services to people who have lost jobs or their homes.
  • Promote togetherness or what CDC calls “connectedness” among individuals, families, and communities. Friendship and high frequency of social contact might help, promoting a feeling of well-being that may be a protective factor against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • Increase the availability of crisis centers and helpful community services aimed at preventing suicide.
  • Look for specific programs aimed at prevention. These may be most available in areas disproportionately affected by recessions.

Luo says in the article that suicide ranked as the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2007 and was responsible for 34,598 deaths.

She writes that suicide is not only influenced by economic conditions, but also medical, psychological, social, and cultural factors.

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