Suicides Doubled During Housing Crisis says article in the Atlantic:
In 2010, just as the U.S. was beginning to climb out of the global financial crisis, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for adults aged 25 to 34 in the U.S., and the fourth-leading cause of death for adults aged 35 to 54. With the Great Recession behind us, public health officials are now trying to measure the toll of the housing crisis in terms of lost life and psychological distress.
A new study released this month in the American Journal of Public Health offers one answer to this complex question. The report finds that suicides spurred by severe housing stress—evictions and foreclosures—doubled between 2005 and 2010.
The study is the work of researchers from the Division of Violence Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Led by Katherine A. Fowler, five researchers analyzed suicide findings from 16 states that participate in the National Violent Death Reporting System. The NVDRS is an epidemiological surveillance system that abstracts data from a variety of sources, including death certificates, law-enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, forensic laboratories, and other vital-statistics providers.
“This study was the first to our knowledge to systematically examine suicides linked with eviction and foreclosure,” the report reads.
. . .
The increase in suicides for homeowners (foreclosure-related) was much larger than the increase in suicides for renters (eviction-related). Foreclosure-related suicides more than tripled between 2005 and 2010. “This further suggests a relationship between these suicides and the housing crisis, which resulted in a national 389 percent increase in foreclosures between 2005 and 2010,” the report reads.
Disturbingly, the study suggests that the mechanism of foreclosure proceedings might actually lead to increased risk for suicide:
Foreclosure may be exceptionally stressful because of its protracted nature and multiple negative events that constitute the process, particularly given the evidence that situational depression may respond in a dose-response fashion to negative life events. In addition, depression is more strongly related to stressful life events for which individuals perceive personal responsibility and lack of control over outcomes. All of these factors are mechanisms that make the foreclosure process a potent psychological stressor.
Reports of suicides related to evictions or foreclosures began to surface in national media early into the housing crisis, of course; but details explaining the frequency or circumstances of housing-related suicides remain elusive, even today. No research explains directly the link between home eviction and foreclosure proceedings and suicide.
Recently, however, researchers have begun to describe this relationship. According to the CDC analysis, mortgage delinquency has been shown to be linked to serious psychological adversity, including major depression (two times greater odds) and “elevated depressive symptoms related to acute stress” (eight times greater odds).