The recent U.S. foreclosure crisis contributed significantly to the nation’s jump in suicides, independent of other economic factors associated with the Great Recession, according to a study by Dartmouth and Purdue professors.
The study is the first to ever show a correlation between foreclosure and suicide rates.
The authors analyzed state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010. During that period, the U.S. suicide rate increased nearly 13 percent, and annual home foreclosures hit a record 2.9 million (in 2010).
Moreover, strong effects were seen among the adults aged between 46 and 64 years of age. The same group also had high suicide rates after the foreclosures.
“It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways,” said co-author Houle. “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.”
“Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged,” Houle said. “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 well-being.”
Past researches have shows association between economic cycles and suicide rates. However, this is the first to look specifically at foreclosures.