Bad economy blamed for high suicide rate in U.S. 2009-05-12 14:07:42   Print

    LOS ANGELES, May 11 (Xinhua) -- More Americans have committed suicide under economic pressure and experts predict that as the economy continues to fall, suicide rate will go higher.

    Ronan Bell, a 35-year-old Venice resident in California , killed himself last month at a beach pier.

    On April 16, a pharmacist opened fire at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in California , killing two co-workers, including a Redondo Beach resident, before shooting himself. Police cited the "tension going on in our society" as a contributing factor.

    Not only the poor in the U.S. committed suicide. The new trend is that wealthy business people and professionals who have been caught in the recession also preferred to end their own lives. New York lawyer William Parente killed his wife and two daughters before killing himself in a Maryland hotel room April 19. He had reportedly lost about 27 billion dollars for his clients.

    What shocked the U.S. and even the world is the news that the finance chief of troubled U.S. mortgage giant Freddie Mac, David Kellermann, was found dead on April 22 after apparently committing suicide.

    Kellermann, promoted to acting chief financial officer last September after the government took control of the company, was found hanging in the basement of his home in an affluent Washington suburb.

    The body count keeps rising. In the past several months, the economic recession marked by bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions and mass layoffs has taken a heavy toll on Americans.

    By October 2008, an analysis of press reports in the U.S. indicated that an epidemic of tragedies spurred by the financial crisis had already spread from East to the West and North to the South.

    In Los Angeles County, the number of suicides in 2008 jumped to805, compared with 695 in 2007 and 689 in 2006, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

    There is no statistic on the number of suicide cases in the U.S. for 2008, and the latest statistics available is 2006, when 33,300 suicide deaths were reported nationwide, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Statistics showed that the suicide rate increased from 11.0 in 2005 to 11.2 in 2006 in the U.S.. The rate has fluctuated since 2000, ranging from a low of 10.4 suicides per 100,000 population in 2000 to a high of 11.2 in 2006, with a mean rate of 10.9.

    Studies show that suicides, along with alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence, historically increase during times of economic depression and recession. Researchers found a connection between bad economy and high suicide rates.

    During the Great Depression, suicide rates rose from 14 to 17 for every 100,000 Americans from 1929 to 1933, as unemployment rates increased from 3.2 per cent to 24.9 per cent within the same period.

    Clinical psychologist Leslie Seppinni at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles told Forbes magazine that this was "the first time in her 18-year career that businessmen are calling her with suicidal impulses over their financial state."

    In the last three months alone, "she has intervened in at least14 cases of men seriously considering taking their lives."

    Seppinni offered this observation: "They feel guilt and shame because they think they should have known what was coming with the market or they should have pulled out faster."

    Based on previous experience, researchers predict that suicide rates will go higher if the economy continues to deteriorate.

    Steven Garlow, the chief of psychiatry at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, said: "There is very clearly a relationship between macroeconomic conditions and suicide" and "in times of financial hardship, financial distress, upheaval, there is an increase in suicide."

Special Report:  Global Financial Crisis

Editor: Sun
Related Stories
Home Health
  Back to Top