It’s a known trend in U.S. history – when the economy takes a dive and people start losing their jobs and their homes, suicide rates significantly increase. Back in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, suicide rates rose by over 20%. During this recent recession, calls to suicide hotlines have jumped considerably, and suicide rates have been increasing.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline had an alarming 36 percent increase in calls during 2008. 2009 brought another 15% increase in calls to their crisis line. With regards to actual suicides, the rate went up by over 15% in 2008 compared to 2007 in Tennessee. Many other states have also seen an increase in suicide rates.
A significant financial cisis can take a terrible toll on anyone who experiences it. When a person’s income suddenly stops due to job loss, unemployment benefits often don’t even begin to replace it adequately. Even worse, when those benefits run out and a new job has not yet been found, the future can quickly look very bleak. Anxiety and depression can begin to set in, and nothing fuels them more than a lack of hope. Without hope, it is very difficult to keep moving forward and taking the necessary steps to get back on one’s feet. And without hope, thoughts of suicide can become more and more prominent.
If you (or anyone you know) is feeling hopeless and / or having even fleeting thoughts of suicide, it is crucial to seek help immediately. Sometimes just talking to someone can be very helpful. It is easy to feel ashamed and alone during times of extreme financial distress (or any kind of distress). You can call 911 or a crisis line, go to a nearby hospital emergency room, talk to someone at a church, or contact a local mental health provider or facility – there are always people who care and are there to help, even when it seems all hope is gone.