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Suicide Rate Flows Accordingly With The Economy

April 14, 2011

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) said on Thursday that the suicide rate in the U.S. coincides with how well the economy is doing.

Their study is the first look at suicide trends by age and business cycles, and it found that working Americans are significantly more prone to suicide in tough economic times.

The CDC team looked at the impact of business cycles on U.S. suicide rates from 1928 through 2007.  They found a general correlation among suicide rates and major shifts in the U.S. economy.

“Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends,” Feijun Luo, an economist in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention and the study’s lead author, said today in a statement. “Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors.”

Suicides famously spiked during the Great Depression, surging to a record high of 22 suicides per 100,000 people in 1932, which was up from 18 per 100,000 in 1928.

Other economic slow downs such as the New Deal in 1937, the Oil Crisis in 1973 and the Double-Dip Recession in 1980 also saw an increase in suicides.

Suicide rates tended to fall during periods of plenty, such as the time period of World War II and the decade-long expansion from 1991 to 2001, in which the economy was flourishing.

“Knowing suicides increased during economic recessions and fell during expansions underscores the need for additional suicide prevention measures when the economy weakens,” James Mercy, acting director of CDC’s Injury Center’s Division of Violence Prevention, said in a statement.

“It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide.”

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