Report ties suicide rates to economic cycle

Specifically, the study found that overall suicide rates generally rose during downturns such as the Great Depression (1929-1933), the 1973 oil crisis and the 1980-1982 double-dip recession (1980-1982). The worst surge was during the Great Depression, when the suicide rate increased a record 22.8 percent between 1928 and 1932.

The rate fell during expansions such as World War II and the 1990s, to a low point in 2000.

"We know suicide is not caused by any one factor — it is often a combination of many that lead to suicide," said the study's lead author, Feijun Luo. "But there are many opportunities for prevention. Prevention strategies can focus on individuals, families, neighborhoods or entire communities to reduce risk factors."

Luo recommends: 

  • providing social support and counseling services to those who lose jobs or homes; 
  • promoting greater social integration and connection to schools and churches; and
  • increasing the accessibility of prevention services.