Category Archives: Behavioral/mental health
In the U.S., the most recent data show that over 34,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, and over 350,000 people are seen in emergency rooms every year for self-inflicted injuries. To bring attention to this health issue, World Suicide Prevention Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization, is observed each year on September 10.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that suicide rates rise and fall with the economy. The study found the strongest association between business cycles and suicide among people in their prime working years—ages 25 to 64.
“Knowing suicides increased during economic recessions and fell during expansions underscores the need for additional suicide prevention measures when the economy weakens," said James Mercy, Ph.D., acting director of CDC's Division of Violence Prevention. "It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide."
Other study findings:
- The overall suicide rate generally rose in recessions like the Great Depression (1929-1933), the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the Oil Crisis (1973-1975), and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982) and fell in expansions like the WWII period (1939-1945) and the longest expansion period (1991-2001) in which the economy experienced fast growth and low unemployment
- The largest increase in the overall suicide rate occurred in the Great Depression (1929-1933)—it surged from 18.0 in 1928 to 22.1 (all-time high) in 1932 (the last full year in the Great Depression)—a record increase of 22.8% in any four-year period in history. It fell to the lowest point in 2000
"Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures,” says Feijun Luo, Ph.D., an economist in CDC's Division of Violence Prevention and the study's lead author. "We know suicide is not caused by any one factor – it is often a combination of many that lead to suicide. Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a list of evidence-based best practices for suicide prevention.
And last week the Department of Health and Human Services announced $53 million in grants to be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grants will be awarded to states and tribes for youth suicide prevention programs.
Over the last half century, the worldwide health community has made significant gains in decreasing the impact of communicable diseases.
But those gains are being eroded in one demographic group by suicide, violence and accidents.
There is some good news, though. Researchers — using World Health Organization data from fifty countries — found that death rates for young children (those under 14) and young women (age 15-24) declined considerably between 1955 and 2004.
Other notable findings include:
- By the late 1970s, injury (including suicide, violence and accidents) was the dominant cause of death for young men age 15-24.
- Death rates from injury for men in this age group increased to one-quarter to one-third of deaths between 2000 and 2004.
- Deaths in children under five are down, the result of public health efforts to prevent and treat communicable diseases.
In the U.S., next week’s National Public Health Week will help shine light on these issues. The week includes an increased focus on injury prevention including suicide, violence and accidents.
The American Public Health Association has put together a toolkit with more information on injury prevention.
WEIGH IN: Has your community faced these issues? How can communities work to reduce deaths among young men?