News

Home » News » NYC Suicide Rate 29% Higher at Economy's Nadir vs. Peak 03/16/2012

NYC Suicide Rate 29% Higher at Economy’s Nadir vs. Peak

Mailman School Main Feature Graphic
Contact Us

Timothy S. Paul
212-305-2676

Email
tp2111@columbia.edu

Transmission

Subscribe now to our biweekly newsletter to get the latest from Mailman School of Public Health

White Men Most Affected by Economy, Wall Street Volatility Not a Factor

New evidence on the link between suicide and the economy shows that the monthly suicide rate in New York City from 1990 to 2006 was 29% higher at the economic low point in 1992 than at the peak of economic growth in 2000.

The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, and Weill Cornell Medical College, appears in the February 22 American Journal of Epidemiology and is available online.

“The reasons behind an individual’s decision to take his or her life are often complex and difficult to understand, even for family and friends,” observes senior author Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, Gelman Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. “It is usually a combination of forces with, for example, economic stresses on top of a strained relationship. Economic hardship can hurt a person’s self-worth and limit the availability of social resources, including mental health care.”

White men under the age of 45 were the driving force of the association between economy activity and suicide, according to the study. Dr. Galea says that while the reasons are not fully understood, this may be because white men are in occupations that are more exposed to economic vagaries than those of nonwhites and women.

While broader economic conditions were shown to affect suicide, Wall Street volatility was not. First author Arijit Nandi, PhD, a