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Study: Financial Strain Top Risk For Attempting Suicide

As per a recent study, individuals who are experiencing financial hardships might have a 20-fold increased risk around attempting suicide, versus those who are not suffering from financial strain. The research team in charge of the study warns that because of the economic impact caused by COVID-19, suicide attempts could be a greater concern soon.

The lead author of the study, Prof. Eric Elbogen noted that the study reveals financial stressors play a key role when it comes to suicide, and there is a major need to recognize this due to the unprecedented financial situation that the pandemic triggered, worldwide. He added that we may see a dramatic spike in suicide rates.

Interestingly enough, the study was conducted before the start of COVID-19 and represents a grouping from American adults. Data was analyzed from over 34,600 adults from 2001 to 2002, as well as 2004 to 2005. The information was part of a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

The research revealed that dealing with a financial crisis or being in debt, past homelessness, unemployment, and having a lower income were all factors linked to suicide attempts. As such, the team predicted that those who deal with financial hardship are 20-fold likelier of a risk when it comes to suicide attempts, versus those who have zero financial strain.

The researchers predict a similar concept when it comes to economic stressors. Elbogen noted that assessing this link using pre-pandemic data reveals a direct risk, and should raise flags as millions of individuals experience economic stress due to COVID-19.

The study team also noted that there were limitations to the study, specifically due to self-reporting by participants involved. As there is a stigma attached to suicide and mental health, some may not have disclosed the full extent of things they were dealing with.

Additionally, the study did not measure the dimensions of financial hardship (from simply losing a job to being in debt, or being on the brink of homelessness), which could be a contributing factor to limitations within the research and results.

Lastly, the team did note the need for added research in reviewing financial strain, mental health, empowerment, and the relationships within, stating that a lack of opportunity when it comes to financial mobility can play a vital role in all this.

If you, or anyone you know, maybe suffering from suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a resource that can be accessed 24 hours per day, seven days a week. You can call 1-800-273-8255, and those with hearing impairments can reach out to 1-800-799-4889.