As the worst of the nationwide foreclosure crisis recedes, researchers are learning more about the economic and social ramifications of losing a home. Research has already established there is a strong link between foreclosure and a variety of physical and psychological problems, that include the suicide rate.
Study Linking Foreclosures and Suicide
A paper, published in the American Journal of Public Health, written by two sociology professors, Jason Houle at Dartmouth College and Michael Light at Purdue University, sheds light on the link between foreclosure and suicide.
A study performed by the two sociologists found that even when other socioeconomic factors such as unemployment were taken into account, the higher a state’s foreclosure rate, the higher the suicide rate. Further analysis shows a particularly strong connection between foreclosures and the suicide rates of the middle-aged (considered 46 to 64 years old in the study). This link helps to shed light on some of the changes that have been unique to the recent downturn. “We have seen suicide rates go up in the recession, but that’s not the big news,” says Houle. He says the “real public health puzzle” is that the increase was really driven by the rise of suicide rates of the middle-aged.
Middle-aged Surpassed Elderly
For the first time since the data have been collected, the middle-aged recently surpassed the older group, who were historically most likely to commit suicide.
Middle-Aged Group Has Most Homeownership
“It does look like rising home foreclosures explain a little less than 20 percent of the rise in suicide rates among the middle-aged,” Houle says. The researchers wrote that may be because that age group has the highest levels of homeownership, and “losing key assets and wealth close to retirement age is likely to have a profound effect on the mental health and well-being” of the middle-aged. For researchers, the crisis provides an ongoing source to learn from, though an unfortunate one.
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Source: SF Gate, More foreclosures, more middle-aged suicides, study finds, May 27th, 2014