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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Financial #Strains Significantly Raise Risk of #SuicideAttempts

Sarah Avery

DURHAM, N.C. – Financial strains such as high debt, low income and unemployment are associated with #suicideattempts and should be considered key factors when assessing #mentalhealth interventions, a new study from Duke Health researchers shows.

While the study was undertaken before the #COVID-19 #pandemic, the findings are especially relevant within the context of the economic downturn triggered by the spread of the #virus.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

“Our research shows that financial stressors play a major role in suicides, and this needs to be recognized and appreciated in light of the unprecedented financial instability triggered by the #COVID-19 #pandemic,” said Eric Elbogen, Ph.D., a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke, and lead author of a study publishing online Sept. 3 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“We could well be seeing a dramatic increase in #suicide rates moving forward,” Elbogen said.

Elbogen and colleagues noted that financial problems have long been considered a risk factor for #suicide, but often as a contributing factor amid other #mentalhealthissues, such as substance abuse and #depression, and not as a driving force. Additionally, #suicide rates have risen in recent years regardless of economic conditions, although they are higher during downturns. 

To determine whether financial strain was a singular, primary factor leading to suicidal thoughts and self-harm, Elbogen and colleagues used nationally representative data of U.S. adults interviewed from 2001-02, followed by a second interview of the same respondents in 2004-05.

They found cumulative financial strain predicted #suicideattempts that occurred between the two study periods. Financial debt/crisis, unemployment, past homelessness and lower income were each associated with subsequent #suicideattempts. 

Study respondents who experienced those four financial strains had 20 times higher predicted probability of attempting #suicide compared to respondents who experienced none of the financial problems. The results were similar for people having suicidal thoughts. 

“Our study, while assessing this connection using pre-COVID data, shows a direct risk that should raise alarm as millions of people experience economic hardship resulting from the #pandemic,” Elbogen said. He pointed to recent U.S. Census Bureau data showing that half of #Americans have experienced loss in employment income and over a quarter of #Americans are now experiencing housing insecurity as a result of the #pandemic.

“Although the ultimate health impact of #COVID-19 is still unknown, it is all but certain that the longer infections spread, there will likely be more people who will experience significant financial strain resulting from work stoppages and disruption,” Elbogen said.

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