Economic uncertainty and the risk of suicide among men

A recent study published in World Psychiatry and conducted by Marina Economou of the University of Mental Health Research Institute in Athens, Greece shows a correlation between suicide risk and economic uncertainty. The study telephoned surveyed over 2,000 individuals asking them about on mental health status, financial strain, interpersonal relationships and support, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and demographic details.

Economou and her colleagues discovered that completed suicides rose from 507 to 622 and dipped slightly to 598 in the years between 2009 and 2011. Those most likely to complete suicide were those with depression, married people, men, people with financial stress and those with low levels of interpersonal support and trust. Economou believes that there is a higher correlation between suicide ideation, economic turmoil and men.

Not surprisingly, men who have been socialized by our patriarchal society to see themselves as breadwinners are especially vulnerable to financial distress. When men, especially married men, are unable to provide for their families, they may experience significant emotional stress and depression, and may see themselves as failures.

In the United States, suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade as well, prompting concern that a generation of baby boomers who have faced years of economic worry and easy access to prescription painkillers may be particularly vulnerable to self-inflicted harm.


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