Are suicide rates increasing due to Obama's failed economic policies?
In an affluent New York suburb, community members spent this past weekend mourning the loss of a fifty-three year old resident who took his life. Apparently, the father of three and Harvard Business School graduate became so despondent after recently losing his investment banking job that he drove to a park that he often frequented and hung himself. This is the fourth suicide in this one town in just a year.
As the U.S. economy dips into another recession, unemployment numbers remain in excess of 9%, and Barack Obama's solution is comprised of more of the same tax and spend rhetoric that he has been pushing since entering office three years ago, Americans have lost confidence in the administration's ability to turn around the economy. But are we seeing a trend that indicates that Americans have also lost confidence in their own ability to earn a living, care for their families, and continue on themselves?
According to a study conducted earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates increase in tough economic times. And people between the ages of 25-64 years old are more likely to commit suicide during a recession. The lead author of the study and CDC economist, Feijun Luo stated, "Economic problems can impact how people feel about themselves and their futures as well as their relationships with family and friends."
While I imagine that most Americans know someone who has lost their job, it would be interesting to learn how many of these individuals have become depressed, sought therapy (on the taxpayers' dime?), or have attempted suicide. While statistics are not yet available with regard to increased suicide rates in the U.S., a report in the Lancet this summer confirmed that during the period between 2007 and 2009, suicide rates increased among working aged people in nine out of ten European countries studied by the World Health Organization. According to David Stuckler, Ph.D., the author of this study, the suicide rate was larger than the researchers expected based on data from previous recessions. "From the limited data we have, we're seeing that it's more toward the worst-case scenario," he said. And while the direct correlation between increased unemployment rates and increased suicide rates makes intuitive sense, Stuckler surmised that the psychological toll of searching for a job in a market with too few openings available causes growing feelings of hopelessness among the unemployed.
In this light, it would not only make sense that Obama would want to pass a jobs bill immediately, it is his duty as President of the United States to address the issue of unemployment as he should have done the minute he entered the White House. Unfortunately however, Obama waited three years before turning his attention to the ever increasing rate of unemployment that has seemingly taken permanent hold in the country. He waited until the end of his summer vacation to stand before his trusty teleprompters and spout yet one more campaign speech with no real jobs plan other than more spending and increasing taxes on "the wealthy" rather than increasing jobs. As Andrew Malcolm wrote in the Los Angeles Times,
"The president was in such a hurry to get this new spending going, everyone remembers, that during that address he said the phrase 'right now' seven times. He didn't actually mean right now that night because the NFL season was opening a few minutes after his remarks.
But Obama did want to show how really urgent he said the situation was, even though it had taken him 961 days as president to say them. And even though from Day #1 of the brief Obama Era polls had shown jobs and the economy were the No. 1 priority among voters but he pursued healthcare and financial reforms first. And even though unemployment had been at or above 9% for 26 of the last 28 months.
So, given the president's professed urgency, the next day, Sept. 9, everyone asked where was his jobs legislation?
And, well, it seems the urgent jobs bill hadn't actually been written yet but should be ready in a week or two. When the laughter died, the White House said on second thought the legislation would be ready for a photo op the next Monday.
Well, here we are on the next Monday after that next Monday and we've just learned from the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, that actually it seems that body won't really be seriously getting into the legislation for a while yet. The Senate has some other more important business to handle. And then there's this month's congressional vacation, which in Washington is called 'a recess,' like elementary school."
As Steve Chapman writing in the Chicago Tribune suggested, it is time for Obama to throw in the towel and leave office of his own volition. The failures of his economic policies have potentially caused some Americans to determine that it is in the best interests of their families to leave this world. Truth be told, it would be in the best interests of everyone in this world if Barack Obama determined that he should leave Washington, DC. on January 20, 2013.
One final note. According to the WHO study, the impact of the increased suicides on the overall mortality rates of the countries studied is cancelled out by a corresponding drop in traffic deaths. Apparently, when the economy declines, driving decreases as well. So perhaps Obama's grand scheme is to save lives by keeping gasoline prices high. On second thought, Obama cares about one thing and he has made it clear it is not the rate of suicide of despondent Wall Street investment bankers. It is maintaining the grand life style bestowed upon the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.