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."