More Americans Committing Suicide than During the Great Depression

Higher Numbers of Americans Take Their Lives than During the Depths of the Great Depression

Suicide rates are tied to the economy.

The Boston Globe reported in 2011:

A new report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the overall suicide rate rises and falls with the state of the economy — dating all the way back to the Great Depression.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that suicide rates increased in times of economic crisis: the Great Depression (1929-1933), the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the Oil Crisis (1973-1975), and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982). Those rates tended to fall during strong economic times — with fast growth and low unemployment — like right after World War II and during the 1990s.

During the depths of the Great Depression, suicide rates in America significantly increased. As the Globe notes:

The largest increase in the US suicide rate occurred during the Great Depression surging from 18 in 100,000 up to 22 in 100,000

We’ve previously pointed out that suicide rates have skyrocketed recently:

The number of deaths by suicide has also surpassed car crashes, and many connect the increase in suicides to the downturn in the economy. Around 35,000 Americans kill themselves each year (and more American soldiers die by suicide than combat; the number of veterans committing suicide is astronomical and under-reported). So you’re 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist.

NBC News reported in March:

Suicide rates are up alarmingly among middle-aged Americans, according to the latest federal government statistics.

They show a 28 percent rise in suicide rates for people aged 35 to 64 between 1999 and 2010.

RT reports:

In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, scientists from Britain, Hong Kong and United States said an analysis of data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that while suicide rates increased slowly between 1999 and 2007, the rate of increase more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, NY Daily News wrote:

The Great Recession may have been at the root of a great depression that caused suicides to soar among middle-aged Americans, a government report speculates.

The annual suicide rate for adults ages 35 to 64 spiked in the past decade, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And a shaky economy that nose-dived into the worst financial crisis since the Depression may be the biggest reason why.


The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said the annual suicide rate jumped 28.4% from 1999-2010.

It was the biggest increase of any age group, said the CDC, citing “the recent economic downturn” as one of the “possible contributing factors” for the increase.

“Historically, suicide rates tend to correlate with business cycles, with higher rates observed during times of economic hardship,” the report said.

David Stuckler (a senior research leader in sociology at Oxford), and Sanjay Basu (an assistant professor of medicine and an epidemiologist in the Prevention Research Center at Stanford), write in the New York Times:

The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century.

(And see these articles by the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.   This is obviously true world-wide.  For example, last year the New York Times reported:

The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”


In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24 percent from 2007 to 2009, government statistics show. In Ireland during the same period, suicides among men rose more than 16 percent. In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 percent, to 187 in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — from 123 in 2005.)

Indeed, more Americans are killing themselves today than during the Great Depression. Specifically, there were were 123 million Americans in 1930.  The maximum suicide rate during the depths of the Great Depression was 22 out of 100,000  Americans.  That means that up to  27,060 Americans killed themselves each year.

In contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that 38,364 Americans committed suicide in 2010. In other words, 2010 suicides were approximately 142% of suicides during the depths of the Great Depression. (The suicide rate is lower today than during the Great Depression, but – given that there are more Americans – there are more suicides each year.)

The head of my local county’s mental health services confirmed to me today that there are now more suicides now than during the Great Depression.

The Root Causes: Unemployment and Foreclosure

Why do more people kill themselves during severe downturns?  It’s not just a downturn in the business cycle in some general sense.  It’s more specific than that.

Unemployment and foreclosure are the largest triggers in increased suicide risk.

David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu write:

People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.


Unemployment is a leading cause of depression, anxiety, alcoholism and suicidal thinking.

ABC News points out:

“Joblessness is a risk factor for suicide,” said Nadine Kaslow, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta. “The stress is just overwhelming. … People are freaked out.”

Bloomberg reports:

“The suicide rate started accelerating in 2008, 2009 and 2010 — someone might still be working, but their house is underwater, or they’re working but they’re working part-time,” Eric Caine, the director of the CDC’s Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention, said by telephone. “These things ripple into families. There’s an economic stress.”

NY Daily News writes:

“Most people who commit suicide tend to suffer from major depression, and this vulnerability tends to be brought forth by very stressful situations like losing one’s home or job,” [Dr. Dan Iosifescu, director of mood and anxiety disorders program at Mount Sinai Hospita] said.

NBC News reports:

The American Association for Suicidology says economic recessions don’t normally affect suicide rates.

“Although US suicide rates did increase slightly during the years of the Great Depression, reaching a peak rate of 17.4/100,000 in 1933, subsequent US recessions have not been found to lead to increased national rates of suicide in the period of or immediately following each recession,” the group says.

The latest numbers suggest suicide rates for middle-aged Americans now surpass the peak during the Depression. And there’s another possible explanation.

“There is a clear and direct relationship between rates of unemployment and suicide,” the suicidology group says in its statement.

“The peak rate of suicide in 1933 occurred one year after the total US unemployment rate reached 25 percent of the labor force. Similar findings have been documented internationally. At the individual level, unemployed individuals have between two and four times the suicide rate of those employed.”

The group also raises concern about the home foreclosure rate.

Indeed, it is likely that more people have lost their jobs during this “Great Recession” than during the Great Depression … especially when you look at the masses of people who have given up altogether and dropped out of the work force.

And it is possible that more people have lost their homes through foreclosure than during the Great Depression as well.

No wonder there are so many suicides …

Postscript:  If you suffer from depression, this may help.

This entry was posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.
  • nveric

    I became very depressed this past month as I’ve not been here much. Not really wanting to die, but rather the pain of living was great. Seriously, get some sort of help if you can’t cope.

    There’s a different approach for self-help, however:

    Make a nonviolent army. It focuses the mind to a purpose to ease your suffering and pains. Think about it.

  • Tonto

    “The Root Causes: Unemployment and Foreclosure”

    Really? I would have said that the root cause of these elevated levels of suicide is a massive decline in the standard of living for everyone. And the cause of that decline is the collapse and coincident failure of so many scientific half-fixes in our scientific society. Globalism is at the core of the biggest of these problems, isn’t it?

    Suicide is even up among the relatively rich in our society. The Bush tax cuts for the rich were given to this group, because they began to feel -the hurt- first, when their relatively high standards of living were impinged upon by the implosion in 2000.

    Yes, unemployment and foreclosure are walloping the psyche of many. But I sold my fifty-acre farm in 2005, and I now live with my wife in a one bedroom apartment which is as frugal as I can get -intentionally-. And I haven’t worked except as a writer and a painter (not even making peanuts) in more than a decade.

    Life has never been better for me at sixty-three. In fact, I swim a mile five nights a week to keep fit, and I actually feel healthier than I have felt in decades, both physically and mentally.

    Yes, I am being anecdotal, but I think the “unemployment and foreclosure” argument is equally anecdotal.

    • Joe Milbury

      It’s interesting though. Most poor people, even homeless people based in Christ seem to be able to cope with life. That’s pretty interesting huh?

      • Tonto

        You are absolutely right. Religion is a life-preserver for those who are religious. Almost any belief in something other than the now-seriously-challenged god-like efficacy of science seems to hold the same strength in these long-term troubled times.

        Science is not the language of God. Science is dead.

        Science is a deceitful ruse that has very little to do with any cogent or logical human truth. The sudden collapse of scientific society that has been going on of late, has been an unbearable blow to those who abandoned every one of their other beliefs along the way of their now-laughable scientific education.

        Science has for several generations instilled the strange belief in the scientific that all life’s problems have solutions. People are giving up living their imaginary scientific lives for want of a belief that a scientific solution is going to come soon enough to save them from their continuing scientific misery.

        Scientific solutions are at best temporary -on an ever-shortening time scale. And at the most realistic worst, scientific solutions merely pour on more catalyst toward increasing the brevity of the solution intended.

        “Here’ take this pill. It will cure what ails you.”

        “What is it?”

        “It’s a suicide pill.”

      • VCubed

        Yep, Christians have never murdered or committed suicide. #Crusades #WitchTrials #WomenAsIncubators no matter how poor or exhausted. Next.

    • Warren Celli

      You are correct, the root causes are not unemployment and foreclosure. They are merely symptoms of the real root cause which you only allude to; the root cause is the sociopathic mental disorder of Xtrevilism and the failure of the American Psychiatric Association (hijacked by the disease itself now, like so many other societal institutions) to recognize the disease.


      “There are a number of reasons that the sociopathic disease of Xtrevilism will not make it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. A few have already been mentioned…

      1. Those in power write the manuals. They are not going to bite the Crumbunist hand that feeds them, nor are they going to admit to their own Xtrevilist leanings and failings. Therefore they will never create a causative hierarchy of mental disorders with Xtrevilism at the top as most harmful to society.

      2. There is an ignorance of the reality of the present day evolutionary environmental dynamics as explained above. Very few understand the explosive role of technology and its exponential effect on evolution.

      3. Because of the ignorance noted in 2. above, Psychiatric Associations remain constrained to a predominantly subjective approach.

      4. Preexisting cultural, religious, and political biases of the principle authors are reflected throughout the DSM manual. Non illnesses, or illnesses of unknown origin, are labeled so as to stigmatize and control. These biases work to prevent consideration of positive change.

      5. There are conflicts of interest that encourage predatory disease mongering betwixt and between psychiatrists and Big Pharma.

      6. Developing a just system of measurable environmental ‘biomarkers’ (the environmental ‘biomarkers’ of; yearly income, assets owned, hierarchical social cost benefit ratios (including deaths of others) for products produced and actions taken, diet, family history, local living conditions, etc.), would require that the effects of past Xtrevilist AGC (Aggregate Generational Corruption) be fairly addressed. Few have the integrity and courage necessary to do so.

      7. The societal divisiveness and conflict created by all of the above plays into the current top down Xtrevilist global orchestration of eliminating the high resource consuming middle class and creating a two tier global society of ruler and ruled where the ruled will be controlled and herd thinned by a less costly robotic law enforcement overseer class.”

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    • VCubed

      Good for you: unemployed with no dependents and a farm to sell. That’s everyone, of course it is! So, should the unemployed parents with nothing to sell, no books to write or paintings to paint that anyone will buy, kill their children instead and just live simply?

  • Joe Milbury

    Sensitive issue on my end. I don’t think this should be glorified. If a homeless crackhead with no family can get up every day and panhandle and be a man, then so can someone out of work or struggling. Most people who off themselves bc of losing their job or being unemployed already made a conscious decision to make their lives revolve around their bank accounts. Their security and self esteem derived primarily from being able to provide financially. That is their shitty life decision. If they valued God, family, friends love and things of virtue before money then they wouldn’t even consider it. You make your priority love of money and you get nothing but problems in due time. Some it takes longer to hit hard. Don’t glorify suicide and make it seem justified bc of the times. They were probably good people but they all made cowardly decisions and that’s the way you portray it to kids. You aren’t dishonoring the dead by doing that you are honoring them by using them as poor example of a life decision.

    • H_H_Holmes

      Your idea of what a man is seems to be horribly out of date. Your white-knight altruisms are the root of the problem and the smugness you excrete will be wiped off when your world is tested.

      • M Gjerdrum

        That person speaks from ignorance, nothing more.

      • Lenard Osborns

        Well stated. Thank you.

    • VCubed

      Awesome. All they have to do is pray, and, whoosh! Suicidal depression disappears! Love that scientific analysis. Since you’re so religious, when did God decide you should be the one to condemn his creations?

    • Lions Maniac

      You’re right, Joe. ~ But so are these other guys.
      A man is a caretaker…a hunter…a PROVIDER! (It’s biblical).

      This inability to provide for the family after decades of doing so is absolutely paralyzing.

      Thanks, Obama. I promise – – YOU WILL PAY DEARLY IN THE AFTERLIFE!

    • K. Melona

      I completely disagree… It’s not a “life decision” to be suicidal. It’s a problem with chemicals in your brain and the state of your life. I have friends. I have family. I love God. I highly value personality traits before almost anything else. I don’t even have financial problems. Yet I still want to kill myself. Your analysis seems a little flawed… I’m trying to be polite about this, though failing miserably… Anyway, if you really want me to explain all this to you (which I doubt you do), I can, but next time, do some research before making these comments, because they’re extremely inaccurate and can really offend loads of people. Just try to be little more open-minded please.

  • gozounlimited

    Suicide forced by geoengineering soft kill activity….

    Murder caused by geoengineering soft kill activity…

    The work of clean air activists in Yosemite…….Magnificent…… (Chemtrails abolished by the negative ions in white vinegar).

    • nveric

      Is there another process to explain the diffusion of contrail looking trails into chemtrail looking trails? I’ve seen trails linger and spread south of Reno within hours of contrail trails.

      • gozounlimited

        The word chemtrail is slang for geoengineering. Contrails are not produced from geoengineering. Sad that people are dying from geoengineered storms, tornados, hurricanes. They don’t have a clue and don’t have a choice….. in this case ignorance isn’t bliss.

        • Greg Schaper

          You’re a looney. Get help.

  • hp

    Let em’ eat radioactive isotopes!

  • marvin nubwaxer

    i wonder if wealth gap despair can lead to suicide.
    i predicted an epidemic of depression and depression related problems would arise when people in their 50’s and older lose their jobs and will never get another one. i think everyone is well aware than our society is ill equipped to handle millions left in that situation and to give them all SSD might help i doubt that will happen. society seems to have become mean and nasty with what i call the let them battle for bred in the coliseum as in ancient rome.

    • M Gjerdrum

      You are spot on. Social Security disability and pensions are not enough for most people to survive when they cannot find other work to augment their income. Homeless or dead? What would you choose? That is what it is coming down towards.

  • Davet916

    This article is a magnificent example of statistical massaging. I kept looking for the current US suicide rate per 100,000 and grew more and more suspicious the longer it took to show up. It never did. The 2010 table of suicide deaths for the US = 12.4 per 100,000. I call BS on the whole thing. Do some investigating on your own and don’t be taken in so easily. It’s good to be skeptical.


    • bGreenInnes

      nice work Dave, but you fall into the same trap as the writer when you say ‘BS to the WHOLE thing’. Maybe you introduced some truth but the sad reality is that suicide rates ARE increasing. Even sadder, it seems that folks are using your blasé logic to avoid doing anything about root causes, even so much as changing their voting habits. Will we wait till your #/100,000 exceeds Depression rates? What then? WW3? Civil War 2? Serfdom xx?

      • M Gjerdrum

        My research has shown the rate at 80-90 a day.

        • Lenard Osborns

          At least 22 veterans commit suicide each day in this country so be aware your number is a bit low.

    • VCubed

      It states quite clearly that the rates of suicide are lower compared to Great Depression but quadrupled in 2008-2010. It states more have committed suicide within a larger population, but as with higher number of people, there are higher number of suicides. No major investigation needed. Just read.

  • Ellen Weston

    This is interesting… I know a number of people who are very qualified, but unemployed, and it depresses me!… And it seems to drag on for a really long time while the wife, for example, quietly supports the whole family! I know three couples who are going through that now for over a year and the unemployed, well-educated partners have Ivy League degrees and great health. I’ve tried to be supportive, but it seems like they are mired down and resigned to it.
    Moreover, it is a great shame about Vets!! They should never give up.

    • M Gjerdrum

      Many vets have seen how little purpose there is for them when they return to an environment that does nothing to help them back into our society, because our society is breaking down. Corrupt politicians line their pockets and those of their friends at the expense of the formerly prosperous citizens.

  • disqus_Qd349GU0Wy
  • rainbow coaltion

    Obama = Failure

  • jane hand

    I believe these higher suicide rates are the result of the increase in psychotropic drugs mainly antidepressants.

    I was intensely suicidal every day of the 15 years I was on them never suspecting that was the cause. I decided to go off all of them and within less than a week (the half life of the drugs) ALL suicidal ideation that had been so intense left and did not return for over 8 years when I had a number of bad things happen but even then it was far less intense and easy to resits than when I was on those drugs.

    They had reports of many suicides and homicides but hide the info until they had class action lawsuits and the survivors of mainly dead children testified before a US Congressional hearing and finally got the drugs labeled with this danger. Meanwhile many died at their own hand.

    I am here only due to suicide prevention lines, strong will power and God;s grace as I came so close during those rough days.

    Get rid of all psychotropic drugs and go to the natural methods some prescribed by Dr Peter Breggin and suicides will drop dramatically and also any shooting that are legit and not false flags etc will also cease.

  • Jared

    NO FKIN WONDER….U think Im gonna work all day to get money just to buy bread….FK HELL NO u ILLUMINATI MOTHERFUCKERS u took all from us…and yes I rather commit suicide then live like this….thanks for this fkd up life ELITE OWNERS….

    • DCHeatFan

      I agree completely.

  • ron ron

    Maybe those Jehovah’s witnesses have been right all a long….Hope not!!

  • Meggie

    Nobody is talking about the theft of interest on savers’ money….the way the government permitted the Fed to take all but an insignificant eyespeck. It’s impossible not to conclude, after going into the 7th year of theft and as old savers get older, that it’s not worth living…not when one has to keep taking from the principal to just get by (and thereby stealing from the pittance that they scrimped to leave to their children). The money that will certainly be gone if they live much longer, and the uncertainly about how they will pay for assisted living or nursing home care now that there is almost no interest on their money… wonder suicide leaps to mind. I am not planning to put my head in the oven, but when I take my cat to the vet, I have that sense of desperation. This is NOT what my late husband and I saved for…so that the bankers could make their biggest profits ever and we savers can’t even afford to go to the dentist without spending down the principal. These constant Hobson’s choices that have taken over our lives. The immorality and depravity of the FED and its bankers is impossible to overestimate. Bernanke said that it’s okay to take almost all interest from all savers because SOME have other sources of income. Well , so do bankers! And it’s not just the theft that makes people want to bail…it’s the worry about what will come next. Substitute “Social Security” or “Medicare” for the word “interest” in Bernanke’s comment, and the future becomes clear. They got away with taking all but a tiny sliver of interest, and now they will be taking the rest. Banks are already beginning to ask savers to pay for (get this) “safekeeping of their money.” And both political parties have shown us by their appointments of henhouse foxes to guard savers’ money AND their vote to encourage the bankers to crash the world economy again, that they are both owned by bankers. We are so screwed, and it’s not going to get better until people sit up and take notice.