Suicide Rates in U.S. Increase as Economy Declines, CDC Researchers Find

Suicide rates in the U.S. tend to rise during recessions and fall amid economic booms, according to study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicides reached a record high of 22 people per 100,000 in 1932 during the Great Depression, CDC officials said in a report published online today in the American Journal of Public Health. That was double the rates seen in 2000, when 10 people per 100,000 took their lives as the economy prospered, the study found.

The study is the first to link business cycles and suicide rates among specific age groups, according to the Atlanta-based CDC. People in their “prime working ages” of 25 to 64 years old are the most likely to commit suicide during recessions, the study found.

“Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends,” Feijun Luo, an economist in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention and the study’s lead author, said today in a statement. “Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors.”

The researchers examined economic data and suicide rates for the 80 years ending in 2007. They didn’t evaluate suicide rates during the recession that ended in June 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Peterson in Washington at mpeterson9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at abettelheim@bloomberg.net.

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