ORIGINAL ARTICLE — A story in the Los Angeles Times tries to put recent reports about suicide during the current financial crisis into perspective, concluding that “economic hard times may simply shine a brighter light on suicides even if there’s not much change in rate.”
“Suicides are rarely if ever caused by just one thing,” says [psychiatrist Robert] Simon [of Georgetown University School of Medicine].
Adds [Matthew] Nock, [a psychologist at Harvard University,] “The No. 1 reason people give for making suicide attempts, pretty consistently across studies, is escape from some intolerable or humiliating situation.”
In the end, “the link between economic downturns and suicide rates is not straightforward.”
Says Brian Mishara, president of the International Assn. for Suicide Prevention and psychologist at the University of Quebec … “Ireland’s suicides soared when unemployment decreased and standards of living increased. New Zealand suicide rates increased along with economic prosperity.”
During the Great Depression, suicide rates rose dramatically. In the 1930s, suicides were the cause of nearly 16 deaths per 100,000 people, according to a 2002 report by the Institute of Medicine. “The rate hasn’t been that high since,” Nock says.
The suicide rate in the United States for the most recent year reported was 11 per 100,000, according to 2005 Suicide Data compiled annually by Dr. John McIntosh for the American Association of Suicidology.