Science

Increased Suicide Rate Among Adults Blamed on Financial Problems

By | Mar 01, 2015 11:38 AM EST
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Financial problem

Markets tumble and a worker groans.(Photo : REUTERS/ANDREW WINNING)

A new study revealed the suicide rate for older adults in the United States has increased by about 40 percent since 1999.

Adults between 40 to 64 years of age showed an increase in suicide from 15.5 percent per 1000,000 people to 18.2 percent per 100,000 people. The findings reveal the financial crisis may have been to blame since these suicide rates peaked between 2007 and 2008, the height of the economic recession.

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The reasons for suicide among middle-aged adults during this time were employment, financial or legal problems.

Data collected between 2005 and 2010 looked at the circumstances involved in these suicides. The authors of this new research analyzed information from the National Violent Death Reporting System.

This system compiles information from medical examiners, toxicology reports, death certificates and other sources to provide a detailed picture of the circumstances surrounding violent deaths.

The proportion of suicides linked to external factors such as employment, financial or economic problems rose from about 33 percent in 2005 to 37.5 percent in 2010 for this age bracket. Suicide rates have increased 40 percent overall between 1999 and 2010 for this age group, while rates leveled off for other age groups.

 "The sharpest increase in external circumstances appears to be temporally related to the worst years of the Great Recession, consistent with other work showing a link between deteriorating economic conditions and suicide. ... Financial difficulties related to the loss of retirement savings in the stock market crash may explain some of this trend," said Katherine Hempstead, one of the authors of a new study.

Suicide circumstances were grouped into three major categories: personal, interpersonal, and external.

Personal circumstances include depressed mood, current treatment for a mental health problem, or alcohol dependence. Examples of Interpersonal circumstances are an intimate partner problem, the death of a friend, or being a victim of intimate partner violence. External circumstances are a job or financial problem, legal problem, or difficulty in school.

There should be much higher consideration given to mental health needs in relation to difficult financial times. An increase in access to crisis counseling and other mental health services on an emergency basis should be given as freely as it is during times of natural disaster, say researchers.

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