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Three years ago in 2010 Annie Lowrey (then at the Washington Independent, now at the New York Times), once asked, "So how many suicides are associated with the recession? Nobody knows, not yet. The statistics lag about three years, so the official Center for Disease Control numbers still predate the financial crisis."

Well, it's been three years now, and the numbers are appalling. The Great Recession has definitely taken its toll, especially on the middle-aged in America. It's a national disgrace that the lives of so many sons and daughters of the "Greatest Generation" has come to this.

Some highlights from a recent article in the New York Times:

  • Suicide rates among middle-age Americans have risen sharply in the past decade, prompting concern that a generation of baby boomers who have faced years of economic worry.
  • More people now die of suicide than car accidents.
  • The surge in suicide rates among middle-age Americans is surprising."
  • From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent.
  • The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicide rates jumped by nearly 50 percent.
  • It is the baby boomer group where we see the highest rates of suicide."

It may be another three years before we know what the numbers are for 2010 to the present.

The Washington Post recently reported that the trend in suicides was most pronounced among white men and women who are 35 to 64 years old. Their suicide rate jumped 40 percent between 1999 and 2010, and account for about 57 percent of suicides in the United States. During this 11-year period studied, suicide went from the eighth leading cause of death among middle-aged Americans (ages 35 to 64) to the fourth, behind cancer, heart disease and accidents.

Yahoo News reports that thirty-nine out of 50 states registered a statistically significant increase in suicide rates among the middle-aged.

The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate. And in many cases, the longer the spell of unemployment, the higher the likelihood of suicide

Researchers in a review of 16 eligible studies had a common finding --- that longer durations of unemployment was related to greater risk of suicide and suicide attempt. "Findings suggest that long-term unemployment is associated with greater incidence of suicide. Results of the meta-analysis suggest that risk is greatest in the first five years, and persists at a lower but elevated level up to 16 years after unemployment."

Two years ago Arthur Delaney also reported in the Huffington Post that "a paper by Timothy J. Classen of Loyola University Chicago and Richard A. Dunn of Texas A&M found that mass layoffs and long spells of unemployment specifically were associated with increased suicide risk."

So it can be presumed, because statistics lag, that suicides directly related to the economic downturn may still be ongoing and have not as yet peaked.

Regarding jobs: Another New York Times article reports:

  • The United States economy is not getting any closer to recreating the jobs lost during the recession.
  • The labor force has lost roughly five million additional workers.
  • The federal government counts 11.7 million Americans as unemployed. The real number is more like 17 million.
  • The economy is still roughly 10 million jobs short of returning to normal levels of unemployment and labor force participation.
  • The number of Americans receiving disability benefits has increased by 1.8 million since the recession.

And not only did Americans lose jobs, they are also losing unemployment benefits...even though just as many Americans still remain unemployed today as during the height of the Great Recession (although millions are no longer being counted in the U-3 unemployment rate).

From Mother Jones: New Hampshire residents receiving new emergency unemployment benefits—designed to assist people who have been without work for more than 26 weeks—will see their checks shrink by about 17 percent due to sequestration cuts. Utah will cut its benefits by 12.8 percent, Alabama will cut benefits by 12.8-percent, and Rhode Island will cut benefits by 12.2-percent.

But, the longer other states waits to cut benefits, the steeper the cuts will be as they will have a shorter period of time in which to enact them. For instance, if California waits until June 30,  it will have to cut benefits by 22.2 percent.

The Huffington Post just reported that "at the current pace of job growth, the U.S. economy wouldn't reach full employment until 2021."

Meanwhile, in other economic news, today stocks on the Dow Jones crossed the 15,000 mark for the very first time EVER in the history of the stock market, breaking all previous records.

Robert Reich says "We remain in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. Consumers are still spending, but tentatively at best. Much of the spending is coming from the rich, whose stock portfolios have grown nicely. (The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own 90 percent of all shares of stock.) But the rich don't spend as much of their earnings as everyone else. They save and speculate around the world wherever they can get the highest return."

(Commentary) So it's not just happening in Bangladesh; Americans CEOs might have been literally killing once-middle-class middle-aged Americans too. At least, according to William Shakespeare: "You take my life when you take the means whereby I live."

*What it costs to manufacture an Apple iPhone

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Comment Preferences

  •  thanks for this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Vetwife, AoT

    while firearms do figure in so many of those deaths, it certainly is the case that many other methods including auto accidents and drug overdoses are part of that path to self-destruction and in terms of cause for example, the directors Tony Scott's suicide while tragic is understandable given the terminal diagnosis and unfortunately spectacular

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:42:01 PM PDT

  •  Ugh. N/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, AoT

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:44:01 PM PDT

  •  Not Surprising (9+ / 0-)

    I think that a lot of middle-aged white men saw their lives proceeding on a far better path than it actually has.  Their dads had a stable job and a path to retirement.  If you showed up for work and did your job, you had a job basically for life and a pension to help you in your old age.

    Now no one has a job for life, basically no one has a pension, you look out at the finish line (retirement) and see that line getting pushed farther and farther back ("Did we say 62?  We meant 65, or 67, or 70...')

    You went to college at a time where you could pay for it working 21 hours a week.  Now it would take your kid 67 hours a week.

    I have led a very successful life thus far, but the contrast between what I witnessed growing up and what I am seeing in the world today really bothers me.  I am not surprised that someone turning 55 who is out of work, divorced, living in a one bedroom apartment and unable to support his kids might decide that this really isn't the deal he signed up for.   It is the wrong thing to do - but I understand it.

  •  This speaks to the new immigration bill (4+ / 0-)

    which is going to VASTLY INCREASE the number of H-1B visas. These visas work to increase age discrimination. Nothing like cheap labor for the industrial bosses at Oracle, Microsoft, and a hundred more high-tech firms. Many older workers are "outsourced", and the stories of training your own replacement from India are true.

    Hundreds of thousands of H-1Bs occupy jobs formerly done by Americans. Hundreds of thousands of J-1s occupy jobs as well. And the new immigration bill will double, triple, quadruple the number of H-1Bs per year.

    This bill is a DISASTER which MUST NOT PASS.

    •  But H1B increases diversity (0+ / 0-)

      Diversity is a strength.  Great progressive companies like Google and Microsoft there are too many jobs that Americans don't want to do.

      And H1B immigrants are natural progressives.  So we should support the program to increase the Democratic electorate.

      •  Clearly you know nothing about H-1Bs (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greengemini, achronon, kurt

        The H-1B is NOT an immigration vehicle: "The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations." Prior to embarrassing oneself, education is important.

    •  It's called "knowledge transfer" . . . (5+ / 0-)

      And when IT jobs were sent to the Tata firm in Mumbai, one of the managers running this "right-sourcing" operation for our employer (a very large not-for-profit health care outfit based in California) told us we could lose our severance benefits if we were not adequately cooperative when training the consultants who replaced us.

  •  people here will attribute this to the aging of (7+ / 0-)

    Boomers...just as they attribute the lower labor participation rate to "retirement."

    People don't "retire" at age 54.  They are retired.

    Everything is just fine...the unemployment rate is inching downwards.  The news headlines today heralded the lowest unemployment rate in 4 years...7 point something.

    The headline could just as easily been that "Unemployment hovers over 7.5 for more than four years."

    How many people in their 50's have given up and found a way to scrounge their way onto SSDI rolls over the past 4 or 5 years?  Just to get a check.  How many sit at home and live in silent humiliation, because they can't find a job, but their SO still has something coming in?

    The Bureau of Labor Stats don't count them.

    And Obama cheerleaders don't want to think about them.

    _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

    by Keith930 on Fri May 03, 2013 at 02:55:01 PM PDT

    •  The diary the other day by MB (5+ / 0-)

      really brought it home by showing a graph of the labor force  participation rates. They are at the lowest levels since 1979. People are giving up on finding jobs, and it's not just older people.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Fri May 03, 2013 at 03:12:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The labor force (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        has been inflated. At the same time, the number of jobs has been decreased due to productivity. Result: labor force participation is down.

        Good time to pass an immigration bill and HUGELY INFLATE the number of workers!!

        Democrats have to decide: do we increase workers with immigration or do we help out Americans.

        No to immigration reform.

        •  That's not what's happening right now (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          Because the percentage of people with jobs is going down much faster than the number of people are going up.

          Good time to pass an immigration bill and HUGELY INFLATE the number of workers!!
          We should have open borders in my opinion. Money and goods can travel freely across the border, why not people?

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Fri May 03, 2013 at 03:52:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And jobs - send them all to Mexico (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            They used to have a Whirlpool factory in Galesburg, IL. After NAFTA, all the jobs went to Mexico. Good for the Whirlpool company, but it sucked for the people of Galesburg.

            Democrats used to support good jobs with high pay. Today? We support immigration and jobs for non-americans. And THAT is a value that Grover Norquist loves. Me? I'm a Democrat, and I think it sucks.

  •  Thanks for these stats.. (4+ / 0-)

    I would venture to say there is even more than economics for the reason of a spike.   I do think it could be a determining factor however.

    When a boomer starts thinking about their kids and grandkids and how for the first time ever, those kids are worse than they had it, there is some guilt and boomers had more of the trickle down stuff to cope with.  During our working years, we had to start over and over.  

    Personally the Vietnam generation and their famiies had to face a great deal.   I say, especially veteran families who had to deal with so much mental non acceptance from families and even themselves.   PTS has always been around but the boomer generation has seen more change than any generation and for people trying to play catch up to find they may pretty devastating.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri May 03, 2013 at 02:56:27 PM PDT

  •  This is more than just boomers (2+ / 0-)

    It's also Gen X in that age group.

    And it's hardly surprising given the huge amounts of debt that people are in these days. The first comment on the article nails it:

    We're being driven into debt peonage and some people simple won't accept that.

    The other thing I'm wondering is how much murder suicides have gone up in the same time period. I'd bet there's an equivalent rise in women killed by significant others.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Fri May 03, 2013 at 03:10:11 PM PDT

    •  it's mostly gen x in that group, actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      baby boomers, those born in the decade after WW2, are mostly in their 60s, in the process of getting medicare and retiring. the middle aged 40 and 50 year olds that this article is talking about are mostly clustered on the older end of gen x, what often gets called gen jones, pres. obama's generation.

  •  This shouldn't be very surprising. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, ZhenRen, achronon, kurt

    By now, without the Bush economic grand theft, I would, from my savings/investments and inheritance from 2000, be at least half a millionaire.
    That's not really a lot if I should live, say, 15 years past retirement and need assisted living/medical care for say the last 5 years.

    What I have after Bush ripped it off for himself and his buddies,  is about enough to live for three years.  SS is not a survivable amount at my earning level, it won't even rent an efficiency apt.

    So what do I do after my last day at work, whether it's this summer when I turn 68 or a decade from now?

    I can starve to death on the streets or blow my brains out or go play in traffic and hope for clean hit.

    My whole generation lost their life's savings under Bush and there are not enough years to replace what was stolen.  So as we retire one by one over the next decade there should be an impressively accumulated body count.

    And by the way my generation was the one that marched for peace, marched for the end of racism, and died in Vietnam and Laos and created the computer age, and went to the moon.  The WWIIers may claim the title "Greatest" but we aren't exactly slouches.

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