Recession-Related Suicides

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from...

In 1931, over 1000 unemployed men marched from the Esplanade to the Treasury Building in Perth, Western Australia to see Premier Sir James Mitchell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are there recession-related suicides?  Yes!   Suicide rates have risen 20% during the Great Depression.  With that in mind, I began to wonder if some folks have ended their lives just because of the recession.  Long periods of unemployment affect former job holders much greater than one can imagine.


It is not so surprising that jobless consumers are two to three times more likely to consider taking their own lives according to The Washington Independent website.  Here, you can read stories of homeless people that are having difficulties and cannot depend on local public services as the Department of Human Services (DHS) or the Salvation Army.  This only leaves them to roam the streets day and night with no particular place to go or no goals to pursue.


Those lucky enough to have a roof over their head, especially homeowners, are still under a great amount of stress.  For most, their unemployment checks are about to run out, their utilities are endangered of being shut off, and they must choose between feeding their families or living in a home where all of the utilities are running.  At the same time, these individuals or families are facing a possible eviction or foreclosure.  To top it all off, some are in danger of or have had their vehicles repossessed.  Some would like to purchase nicer things, but have no choice but to make do with what they have.  Others have no funds to replace things if they break down (as the furnace, an appliance, etc).


Consider those with pets.  We must not forget they need food and periodic care.  Those who are in severe financial turmoil may have no choice but to abandon them.  Turning in unwanted pets to the humane society may seem harsh, but what else can their owners do?  What if the animal shelter is full and cannot accept any more?  It is then up to the owner to decide what to do with them.  Finding someone who will adopt them is rarely easy, if not impossible.  Some may go as far as killing them or turning them loose into the wild.  Needless to say, it tears an owner’s heart out to abandon his pets.


I have sympathy for these people.


Not only is this stressful to the bread winners, but also seemingly disgraceful.  It leaves them between a rock and a hard place.  They’ve sent out countless numbers of resumes with no response back and have become tired and hopeless when considering their job search.


What are these parents suppose to tell their children?   What once dependents expected from their parents (clothing, food, and shelter) is nearly gone (if not completely gone).  Children, especially younger ones, will be heartbroken knowing they’re being deprived of what they hoped to have.  Tension can grow as siblings must fight one-another for things they need.


In 2007 I had a one-week temporary job for a furniture rental store.  My duty was to ride along with the truck driver to pick up or deliver furniture.  I remember stopping at a large, new home and hauling out a living room set because the woman renting it could no longer make her payments.  When we were done, her living room was nearly empty.  I thought about her three little children who ran around the house as we moved the couch and the chairs out to the truck.  Though they were very little, I bet they wondered why all the furniture suddenly disappeared.  This is just a typical example that some unemployed families face.


Now, imagine you’re a debt collector or a utility service representative.  While it goes without saying, most all believe these employees are cold and heartless.  Although some may seem that way, they are human too.  After all, they’re only doing what they must to keep their jobs.  It isn’t easy to tell a customer that they must possess their car or shut off their lights because a payment wasn’t received in three months or so.


So, what do all these things have to do with recession suicides?  A lot!  Losing a job no doubt has a domino effect on one’s life.  Going months without being able to land another one forces a family to lose their once great standard of living.  This causes misery for everyone and depression for the unemployed.  In severe cases, some families become homeless.  A hopelessly jobless adult may feel that the only way out of his problems is to end his life.


About how many suicides are there?  Coming up with an accurate, up-to-date answer is difficult as figures change continuously.  According to a recent video by The Week   in Indiana, the suicide rate of unemployed victims is about 11%.  Recession-related homicides occur as well and are about 9%. These figures vary among city and state  About 6.6 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer.


Fortunately, there is help for those who’ve become distraught and feel that they’re at the end of their ropes.  Along with the 211 line, there is a toll free number: 1-800-273-TALK which is answered 24 hours a day.  Most all large cities have community centers and crisis lines that can be called day or night.  Some facilities are free while others charge according to one’s income.



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