Recession leads to more suicides

A sad fallout from the recession is a rise in suicides and calls to suicide hotlines.

Our area also is suffering. The other day another suicide occurred here that has rattled our community, coming in the aftermath of some other prominent ones last year. (My policy is not to provide details of private suicides, just as any responsible journalist would.)

You can imagine how it could happen: People got in over their head financially and found they couldn’t pay their bills. Some lost their jobs or their homes. They worried about not being able to provide for their family. Money troubles typically are the biggest cause of stress, according to psychologists.

Our area’s suicide rates already have been at all-time highs, as The Union disclosed last year. The reporting generated some concern from the self-interested types around here who always lobby for “happy” news — but the reporting shed a light on an ongoing problem we need to discuss.

We obviously need to keep discussing it.  

Suicide is a national problem too. Earlier this month, Newsweek highlighted the issue, pointing to the suicides of some of the world’s most financially powerful people.

“The suicide rate has already gone up, and my suspicion is that it will not go down,”  Paula Clayton, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Newsweek. “There are data to substantiate a relationship between unemployment and suicide.”

The working class eventually pushed the suicide rate up after the Great Depression, Newsweek reported.

We have a much bigger safety net than we did in the ’30s to help counsel people and prevent suicides. Let’s hope we can help them out.

Postscript: On a more upbeat note, our new puppy “Whiskey” fetched The New York Times from the walkway this morning, a milestone.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

One thought on “Recession leads to more suicides”

  1. A colleague of mine lost three acquaintances to suicide in five weeks because of the economy. The tragedy is not so much the people who died — it’s the family and friends left behind who are the real victims.

    You’re right, Jeff. We’re in a suicidal crisis, and it’s only going to get worse.

    I’m a trained suicide hotline counselor. As far as I know, I never lost anybody, but sometimes, that’s little solace. Just because you’ve prevented a suicide, doesn’t mean you’ve solved the person’s VERY REAL problems.

    A suicide prevention “safety net” is just a torture device if all it does keep some poor soul trapped in a living hell. Jobs, homes, healthcare (mental & physical), community support must follow a suicide prevention.

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