Foreclosure and Suicide

suicideAccording to a recent study, the United States foreclosure crisis has made a significant contribution to the nation’s increase in suicides.[1] In fact, researchers from Dartmouth and Purdue University state that their findings suggest that the association is independent of other economic factors.1 Furthermore, this is the first study to show a correlation between foreclosure and suicide rates.1

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010.1 During that five-year period, the U.S. suicide rate increased by 13 percent, and the number of annual home foreclosures hit a record 2.9 million.1

“It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways,” said co-author Jason Houle, an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth. “The loss of a home clearly impacts individuals and families, and can arouse feelings of loss, shame, or regret. At the same time, rising foreclosure rates affect entire communities because they’re associated with a number of community-level resources and stresses, including an increase in crime, abandoned homes, and a sense of insecurity.”1

The impact of foreclosures on the incidence of suicides was strongest among adults aged 46 to 64, and those within this age group also experienced the highest increase in suicide rates during the recessionary period.1 While other studies have shown links between economic cycles and suicide rates, this one is the first to specifically look at foreclosures.1

“Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged,” said Houle. “Middle-aged adults are more likely to own homes and have a higher risk of home foreclosure. They’re also nearing retirement age, so losing assets at that stage in life is likely to have a profound effect on mental health and wellbeing.”1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Link Found Between Foreclosures & Suicides. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/26/link-between-foreclosures-suicides/70407.html

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