More suicide during economic low point

March 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM
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NEW YORK, March 19 (UPI) -- U.S. and Canadian researchers said an analysis of the monthly suicide rate in New York suggests a correlation between suicide and a bad economy.

Senior author Dr. Sandro Galea of the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues at the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy; the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, and Weill Cornell Medical College, examined the suicide and economic data from 1990 to 2006.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, said the New York suicide rate was 29 percent higher at an economic low point in the economy in 1992, compared to an economic height point in 2000.

"The reasons behind an individual's decision to take his or her life are often complex and difficult to understand, even for family and friends," Galea said in a statement. "It is usually a combination of forces with, for example, economic stresses on top of a strained relationship. Economic hardship can hurt a person's self-worth and limit the availability of social resources, including mental healthcare."

While broader economic conditions were shown to affect suicide, Wall Street volatility was not.

First author Arijit Nandi, an assistant professor at McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy and a former student of Galea's, said the finding was surprising because it goes against the archetype of the despairing stockbrokers on the window ledge jumping to their death.

The bigger picture, Nandi said, is more complex.

"The causes of individual cases of suicide, such as losing money in the stock market, may be distinct from the causes of suicide rates, which are defined at the population level and may reflect a multifactorial causal mechanism," Nandi said.

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