April V. Taylor
As many Americans still struggle to regain their financial footing following the economic downturn that occurred between 2007b and 2009, new statistics indicate that the recession affected more than just home values, household finances, and retirement savings for older adults between the ages of 40 to 64. Based on data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, researchers have uncovered a sharp rise in suicide rates.The data was compiled in a study that was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In a press release, researchers stated, “Relative to other age groups, a larger and increasing proportion of middle-aged suicides have circumstances associated with job, financial, or legal distress and are completed using suffocation.” They went on to say, “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.”
Data showed that job, financial or legal problems played a role in 37.5 percent of suicides in middle-aged Americans in 2010. While mental health problems played a role in the majority of suicides, study authors indicate that financial pressures most likely played a key role in triggering suicidal action in adults who may have only previously contemplated suicide. Suicide rates for middle-aged adults rose almost 40 percent since 1999.
As Katherine Hempstead, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and study author, points out, “The middle-aged bear the brunt of economic stress associated with a downturn. They’re the bread-winner groups who are raising kids, paying for college, planning for their retirement and supporting their elderly parents.”She goes on to state, “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.”