Will we see more crunch suicides?

Will we see more crunch suicides?


As the global economic crisis begins to resemble the Great Depression in scale and gravity, a certain set of tragic statistics keep floating around the media.  

In 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash, 23,000 suicides were reported: the highest number ever.


Eighty years on, we’d like to think that we have become better at resolving problems and getting by. Healthcare, psychotherapy and medication have all improved and it is unlikely we will ever see such suicide figures repeat themselves.


However, many believe that City workers and those in the fiscal sector are at risk of mental troubles following weeks of stress over the security of their jobs and personal finances. England’s NHS medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, has predicted an increase in mental health problems as a result of the worsening credit crunch.


This comes after reports that GPs have seen an increase in patients coming to them for help after being made redundant – apparently work, or lack of, is one of the main causes of depression and suicide. Men are also four times more likely than women to commit suicide. A doctor from Middlesex commented, “I saw someone who had attempted suicide because of his debts.” There have also been reports of people threatening mortgage companies that they would kill themselves following the repossession of their homes.


The emotional support charity, Samaritans, has also told of a 25% rise in the number of calls its helpline has received in the last two months, compared to the same period last year. Attributing the increase to the credit crunch taking its toll on anxious individuals, the charity stated that “Debt is known to contribute to emotional distress and sometimes people in financial difficulty can consider suicide as a way out of the situation that they are in.”


Sadly, the credit crunch has already claimed a handful of victims. Two weeks ago millionaire financier Kirk Stephenson threw himself in front of a train after being unable to cope with his demanding job as financial markets unravelled.


This week it was revealed that an American businessman had shot his whole family before turning the gun on himself after seeing his fortune wiped out by the stock market collapse. In a suicide note, he blamed killing himself, his wife, three children and mother-in-law on financial hardship. The policeman who made the shocking discovery stated that “it is critical for us to step up and recognise we are in some pretty troubled times.”


As these troubled times filter down to the most vulnerable, let’s hope that extraordinary events don’t provoke drastic acts by those on the financial edge.

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