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When Economic Stress Leads to Suicide [AUDIO]

A new study finds thousands of Americans and Europeans took their own lives during the Great Recession – between 2007 and 2010 – after experiencing job loss, or a drop in the value of their homes or stock portfolios.

(Credit: ThinkStock)

But the study, conducted at the University of Oxford in England, also found suicide rates in some countries – like Sweden and Austria did not rise during the recession.

Rutgers University Sociology Professor Dr. Deborah Carr doesn’t believe the findings are a surprise.

“When economic troubles are high, depression rates are also high and so are suicide rates – especially in men who base their identity on their ability to provide for their families economically,” Carr said.

She said women are the primary breadwinner in about one-third of all families, but that still doesn’t remove the pressure from men, who feel that they need to be the primary breadwinner

“Men who feel they are not providing sufficiently for their families may feel depressed but may not have an outlet to share that feeling of frustration,” Carr said. “As a result, they’ll have a high level of depression and then a higher risk of suicide.”

Carr stressed, however, that the trend can be changed.

“In countries like Sweden that have a stronger safety net and provide for families during economic downturn, there is less depression and certainly less suicide,” she said.

New Jersey psychologist, Dr. Steven Tobias, said “difficult economic times and job loss frequently leads people to lose self-esteem and feel depressed. It leads to feelings of hopelessness, they look to the future and think that things are going to get worse, and then tragically they make a decision based on current circumstances without really understanding that this too shall pass.”

He stressed that depression is more treatable than ever these days, but “when people get stuck in these feelings of hopelessness and have no feeling like it’s ever going to change or the future is ever going to be different, tragically they sometimes make that choice.”

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