May 16, 2014 12:24 PM EDT
US Foreclosures Linked To Increased Suicide Rate In Middle-Aged Adults
Recent foreclosures in the United States have been linked to an increase in suicide rates, according to a recent study.
Researchers from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire found that the foreclosure crisis contributed significantly to the nation's jump in suicides, independent of other economic factors associated with the Great Recession.
"It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways," Jason Houle, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, said in a statement. "The loss of a home clearly impacts individuals and families, and can arouse feelings of loss, shame, or regret. At the same time, rising foreclosure rates affect entire communities because they're associated with a number of community level resources and stresses, including an increase in crime, abandoned homes, and a sense of insecurity."
For the study, researchers analyzed state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010. During that period the suicide rate in the United States increased nearly 13 percent, and annual home foreclosures hit a record 2.9 million (in 2010).
Based on their findings, the effects of foreclosures on suicides were strongest among adults 46 to 64 years old, who also experienced the highest increase in suicide rates during the recessionary period.
"Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged," Houle said. "Middle-aged adults are more likely to own homes and have a higher risk of home foreclosure. They're also nearing retirement age, so losing assets at that stage in life is likely to have a profound effect on mental health and well-being."
Researchers said this is the first study to show a correlation between foreclosure and suicide rates.
The findings will be published in the June issue of American Journal of Public Health.
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