Tuesday, November 27, 2012

News Review - 11.27.12

News Review - 11.27.12

Clearing the Fog Around Personality Disorders

A new proposal to clarify diagnoses of recognized personality disorders and better integrate them into clinical practice, to extend and improve treatment, is meeting resistance.

via NYT > Research by By JAMES GORMAN on 11/26/12
Imaging has been able to show in living patients the damage Parkinson’s disease causes to two structures deep in the brain, researchers report.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NYT: "It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”

The New York Times

November 5, 2012

The Heart Grows Smarter

If you go back and read a bunch of biographies of people born 100 to 150 years ago, you notice a few things that were more common then than now.
First, many more families suffered the loss of a child, which had a devastating and historically underappreciated impact on their overall worldviews.
Second, and maybe related, many more children grew up in cold and emotionally distant homes, where fathers, in particular, barely knew their children and found it impossible to express their love for them.
It wasn’t only parents who were emotionally diffident; it was the people who studied them. In 1938, a group of researchers began an intensive study of 268 students at Harvard University. The plan was to track them through their entire lives, measuring, testing and interviewing them every few years to see how lives develop.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the researchers didn’t pay much attention to the men’s relationships. Instead, following the intellectual fashions of the day, they paid a lot of attention to the men’s physiognomy. Did they have a “masculine” body type? Did they show signs of vigorous genetic endowments?
But as this study — the Grant Study — progressed, the power of relationships became clear. The men who grew up in homes with warm parents were much more likely to become first lieutenants and majors in World War II. The men who grew up in cold, barren homes were much more likely to finish the war as privates.
Body type was useless as a predictor of how the men would fare in life. So was birth order or political affiliation. Even social class had a limited effect. But having a warm childhood was powerful. As George Vaillant, the study director, sums it up in “Triumphs of Experience,” his most recent summary of the research, “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”
Of the 31 men in the study incapable of establishing intimate bonds, only four are still alive. Of those who were better at forming relationships, more than a third are living.
It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.” The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.
In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives.
But a childhood does not totally determine a life. The beauty of the Grant Study is that, as Vaillant emphasizes, it has followed its subjects for nine decades. The big finding is that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The men kept changing all the way through, even in their 80s and 90s.
One man in the study paid his way through Harvard by working as a psychiatric attendant. He slept from 6 p.m. to midnight. Worked the night shift at a hospital, then biked to class by 8 in the morning. After college, he tried his hand at theater. He did not succeed, and, at age 40, he saw himself as “mediocre and without imagination.” His middle years were professionally and maritally unhappy.
But, as he got older, he became less emotionally inhibited. In old age, he became a successful actor, playing roles like King Lear. He got married at 78. By 86, the only medicine he was taking was Viagra. He lived to 96.
Another subject grew up feeling that he “didn’t know either parent very well.” At 19, he wrote, “I don’t find it easy to make friends.” At 39, he wrote, “I feel lonely, rootless and disoriented.” At 50, he had basically given up trying to socialize and was trapped in an unhappy marriage.
But, as he aged, he changed. He became the president of his nursing home. He had girlfriends after the death of his first wife and then remarried. He didn’t turn into a social butterfly, but life was better.
The men of the Grant Study frequently became more emotionally attuned as they aged, more adept at recognizing and expressing emotion. Part of the explanation is biological. People, especially men, become more aware of their emotions as they get older.
Part of this is probably historical. Over the past half-century or so, American culture has become more attuned to the power of relationships. Masculinity has changed, at least a bit.
The so-called Flynn Effect describes the rise in measured I.Q. scores over the decades. Perhaps we could invent something called the Grant Effect, on the improvement of mass emotional intelligence over the decades. This gradual change might be one of the greatest contributors to progress and well-being that we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NYT: The Permanent Militarization of America - By AARON B. O’CONNELL - November 4, 2012

The New York Times

via NYT > Global Opinion by By AARON B. O’CONNELL on 11/5/12
We’ve ignored Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial complex, to our peril.

November 4, 2012

The Permanent Militarization of America

Annapolis, Md.
IN 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Most people know the term the president popularized, but few remember his argument.
In his farewell address, Eisenhower called for a better equilibrium between military and domestic affairs in our economy, politics and culture. He worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.
The military-industrial complex has not emerged in quite the way Eisenhower envisioned. The United States spends an enormous sum on defense — over $700 billion last year, about half of all military spending in the world — but in terms of our total economy, it has steadily declined to less than 5 percent of gross domestic product from 14 percent in 1953. Defense-related research has not produced an ossified garrison state; in fact, it has yielded a host of beneficial technologies, from the Internet to civilian nuclear power to GPS navigation. The United States has an enormous armaments industry, but it has not hampered employment and economic growth. In fact, Congress’s favorite argument against reducing defense spending is the job loss such cuts would entail.
Nor has the private sector infected foreign policy in the way that Eisenhower warned. Foreign policy has become increasingly reliant on military solutions since World War II, but we are a long way from the Marines’ repeated occupations of Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century, when commercial interests influenced military action. Of all the criticisms of the 2003 Iraq war, the idea that it was done to somehow magically decrease the cost of oil is the least credible. Though it’s true that mercenaries and contractors have exploited the wars of the past decade, hard decisions about the use of military force are made today much as they were in Eisenhower’s day: by the president, advised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council, and then more or less rubber-stamped by Congress. Corporations do not get a vote, at least not yet.
But Eisenhower’s least heeded warning — concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war — is more important now than ever. Our culture has militarized considerably since Eisenhower’s era, and civilians, not the armed services, have been the principal cause. From lawmakers’ constant use of “support our troops” to justify defense spending, to TV programs and video games like “NCIS,” “Homeland” and “Call of Duty,” to NBC’s shameful and unreal reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” Americans are subjected to a daily diet of stories that valorize the military while the storytellers pursue their own opportunistic political and commercial agendas. Of course, veterans should be thanked for serving their country, as should police officers, emergency workers and teachers. But no institution — particularly one financed by the taxpayers — should be immune from thoughtful criticism.
Like all institutions, the military works to enhance its public image, but this is just one element of militarization. Most of the political discourse on military matters comes from civilians, who are more vocal about “supporting our troops” than the troops themselves. It doesn’t help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II. Those who have served are less likely to offer unvarnished praise for the military, for it, like all institutions, has its own frustrations and failings. But for non-veterans — including about four-fifths of all members of Congress — there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high.
For proof of this phenomenon, one need look no further than the continuing furor over sequestration — the automatic cuts, evenly divided between Pentagon and nonsecurity spending, that will go into effect in January if a deal on the debt and deficits isn’t reached. As Bob Woodward’s latest book reveals, the Obama administration devised the measure last year to include across-the-board defense cuts because it believed that slashing defense was so unthinkable that it would make compromise inevitable.
But after a grand budget deal collapsed, in large part because of resistance from House Republicans, both parties reframed sequestration as an attack on the troops (even though it has provisions that would protect military pay). The fact that sequestration would also devastate education, health and programs for children has not had the same impact.
Eisenhower understood the trade-offs between guns and butter. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he warned in 1953, early in his presidency. “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”
He also knew that Congress was a big part of the problem. (In earlier drafts, he referred to the “military-industrial-Congressional” complex, but decided against alienating the legislature in his last days in office.) Today, there are just a select few in public life who are willing to question the military or its spending, and those who do — from the libertarian Ron Paul to the leftist Dennis J. Kucinich — are dismissed as unrealistic.
The fact that both President Obama and Mitt Romney are calling for increases to the defense budget (in the latter case, above what the military has asked for) is further proof that the military is the true “third rail” of American politics. In this strange universe where those without military credentials can’t endorse defense cuts, it took a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, to make the obvious point that the nation’s ballooning debt was the biggest threat to national security.
Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.
Were Eisenhower alive, he’d be aghast at our debt, deficits and still expanding military-industrial complex. And he would certainly be critical of the “insidious penetration of our minds” by video game companies and television networks, the news media and the partisan pundits. With so little knowledge of what Eisenhower called the “lingering sadness of war” and the “certain agony of the battlefield,” they have done as much as anyone to turn the hard work of national security into the crass business of politics and entertainment.
Aaron B. O’Connell, an assistant professor of history at the United States Naval Academy and a Marine reserve officer, is the author of “Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps.”


Monday, November 5, 2012

General and Military "suicide epidemics" are in fact one and the same | NYT: Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession - November 4, 2012

General and Military "suicide epidemics" are in fact one and the same."


The New York Times

November 4, 2012

Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession

The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
In the report, which appeared Sunday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal, researchers found that the rate between 2008 and 2010 increased four times


The parallel between general and military "suicide epidemics" is striking. Statistical approximation of military samples to general might not be truly "corrective", the "controlling" factors, such as age and gender might not in fact be controlling and having any particular significance.
The servicemen might strongly absorb, "incorporate",  the perceptions and moods of their families and a community at large; a sense of sharing the same informational and emotional space is quite strong in the collective American psyche.

The comparison of both "epidemics"

"Suicide epidemics" are in quotation marks, because the very notion of "psychiatric epidemic" is rather questionable, it is copied from general epidemiology without much accounting for the specifics and complexities of "psychiatric epidemiology". The "truer" concept might include the very relative  socially mediated perceptions, values and variables, since the true baseline figures for suicide as a statistical phenomenon are not known to us, and more than this: they do not even exist and cannot exist in principle. The numbers simply reflect the current state of affairs with very relative and arbitrary "baselines". The short term dynamics of these numbers, the statistical pattern and their underlying mathematical model might be more important than the significance of nominal baselines. And this pattern, as we see it on statistical graphs for both epidemics, is the same: the one of exponential growth, increase in a geometric progression. This might signify that general and military suicide epidemics are in fact one and the same epidemic, with mostly the same factors, and with some additional specific factors for military suicides, mentioned earlier, at play.
The onset of this epidemic appears to be the second half of 2001. The effects of traumatic events of 9.11.01 on American national psyche have to be considered as causative factors in both general and military suicides, with potentially more severe impact on military and similar type of services.
The effects of economic crisis and unemployment probably are mediated by the psychological trauma of the loss of social status, a significance of which, due to other contributing factors and psychology of military service, might be more pronounced and direct in the cases of suicides in the military, and, apparently, the study of this phenomenon in this particular very large group cannot be divorced from its studies in a community, culture and the country at large.
If this reasoning about the roles of causative factors is correct, we should expect gradual levelling off, platoing and eventually decrease of suicide rates to their relative baseline level, with wearing off the effects of social trauma on younger generations.
Like any "crisis", it stimulates thinking about the direction of the Nation and its role in the world and also about the role of the military in the extended peacetime, its potential role as a leading educational, cultural and scientific institution and a model of efficient management and rational and balanced social policies.
What is the relative significance and role, the degree of their "relative causative load", "relative weight" of these and other social, psychological and medical - neurological factors in the causation of various suicidal and self-injurious behaviors and what are the best ways of managing them? This has to be accurately measured, assessed and evaluated: conceptually and socio-psychometrically.


Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession
Correspondence The Lancet (online November 5)

CDC data

Suicidology - Links List

The latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 38,364 suicide deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2010. This latest rise places suicide again as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Nationally, the suicide rate increased 3.9 percent over 2009 to equal approximately 12.4 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide has been increasing since 2000. This is the highest rate of suicide in 15 years.


File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

9/11 and national psyche - GS


Anxiety After 9/11


National Experiment on American Emotions Reveals Impact of Fear, Anger

PITTSBURGH-An unusual national experiment on American emotions conducted by Carnegie Mellon University scientists reveals a national psyche deeply influenced in opposite ways by anger and fear and enormously impacted by media coverage of events post 9-11.

The scientists, all experts in studying the way people think and behave, were able to quickly pull together an experiment that studied the emotions and perceptions of the risks of terrorism of nearly 1,000 American women, men and teens following the terrorist attacks on America.

The results have been presented to NATO officials assessing the carryover impact of terrorism and are in press with the journal Psychological Science. The experiment results may have implications for better understanding of consumer behavior, the role of the media, and public support for the war on terrorism.

Jennifer Lerner, an assistant professor of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the paper, commented that the emotional responses of Americans "clearly influence everything from future support for military action to decisions to travel."

The Carnegie Mellon team drew four major conclusions from the study:

1) Americans who experience anger are more optimistic about the future, less likely to take precautionary actions, and more likely to favor aggressive policy responses than those who experience fear.

2) Individuals see themselves as less vulnerable than the "average American," while still perceiving strikingly high personal risk in the wake of September 11.

3) Men experience more anger about terrorism than women, leading them to be more optimistic than women.

4) Media portrayals of the terrorist attacks strongly influence emotional responses, producing anger in some instances and fear in others.
The experiment involving nearly 1,000 American men and women ages 13 to 88, suggests that heightened emotions of fear and anger affect responses to the threat of terror currently facing the nation, with anger promoting greater optimism and more aggressive policies.

Feelings of fear likely fueled the sense of pessimism that contributed to the national economic downturn after September 11 and the call for tighter security; feelings of anger likely fed the sense of optimism, contributing to support for military action and the sense that threats could be controlled.

Scientifically, the experiment plows new ground. Scientists say that this is the first time that the effects of emotion have been studied in a national sample, using the random assignment to conditions of fear or anger.

The experiment also underscored the profound impact that media coverage has on the American public, Lerner said.

Because emotions often affect economic decisions and the formation of policies, team members stressed the importance of undertaking further studies like this one.

"Citizens need to understand these processes in order to apply their hearts and minds to what might be a protracted struggle with the risks of terror," said Carnegie Mellon University Professor of Social and Decision Sciences Baruch Fischhoff, a member of the scientific team.

In addition to Lerner and Fischhoff, the team included doctoral students Roxana Gonzalez and Deborah Small, all of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Social and Decision Sciences.

Grants from the National Science Foundation and the American Psychological Association funded the study.

Details of the Scientific Experiment Dealing with Emotional Response to Terrorism
In contrast to the common view that negative emotions lead to pessimism, the researchers hypothesized that the negative emotion of anger would lead to optimism, relative to the negative emotion of fear. They also hypothesized that simply asking people to reflect on fear or anger while viewing a fear- or anger-inducing media clip would elicit emotions that were strong enough to shape perceptions of twenty different risky events. Finally, they hypothesized that males would experience more anger and females would experience more fear, leading males to make relatively optimistic risk estimates.

These hypotheses were tested and supported in a national field experiment with almost 1,000 American citizens, ages 13 to 88. The sample's demographics corresponded to those of the U. S. Census, so the results would generalize to the U.S. population. Using WebTVs supplied by the research corporation Knowledge Networks, the project initially asked respondents about their reactions only nine days after the attacks. Eight weeks later, using TV imagery and newspaper reports from major media organizations (e.g., CNN, the New York Times) broadcast on the Web TVs, the researchers surveyed the same people again. For this second survey, half of the sample was exposed to a fear-inducing media clip, while the other half was exposed to an anger-inducing clip.

Anger Led to Optimism; Fear Led to Pessimism
Carnegie Mellon researchers found that Americans randomly assigned to the "fear condition" perceived greater risks from terrorism, while those in the "anger condition" perceived less risk.

"Brief reminders of media stories elicited emotions that shaped Americans' perceptions of their own level of risk. Stories that induced fear increased their perception that they would be hurt in a terrorist attack, while stories that induced anger reduced their perception of personal risk," Lerner explained.

She added that the differential effects of fear and anger were not limited to emotions induced experimentally. Naturally-occurring fear and anger measured in the week after the attacks had the same pattern as the experimentally-induced fear and anger.

"Regardless of whether we randomly exposed people to emotion-inducing media stories or if we measured naturally-occurring emotions, greater anger led to greater optimism," Lerner said.

Fear, Anger Trigger Different Precautionary Responses and Policy Preferences
Fear and anger not only produced different risk perceptions, but also different precautionary responses and different policy preferences. The Carnegie Mellon scientific team contends that these findings have important implications for the health of the U.S. economy and public support for the war against terrorism.

Americans who saw a fear-inducing media story were more likely to say that they would take personal precautions, such as reducing their air travel. Americans who saw a fear-inducing media story were also more likely to support conciliatory public policies. By contrast, Americans who saw an anger-inducing story were less likely to say they would take precautions and less likely to support conciliatory policies.

Overall, Americans strongly supported the public policies of "providing Americans with honest, accurate information about the situation, even if the information worries people," "investing in general capabilities, like stronger public health, more than specific solutions, like smallpox vaccinations," and "deporting foreigners in the U.S. who lack visas." There was somewhat weaker, but still positive support for "strengthening ties with countries in the Moslem world."

Men Perceive Less Risk than Women Because They Are Angrier
The Carnegie Mellon study also discovered that males (ages 13-88) were less pessimistic about risks than were females-because they were angrier. "The striking difference in risk perception between males and females is due to males experiencing greater anger and females greater fear," Lerner said.

Americans Perceived High Risk of Terrorism-But Also Say Risk Is Higher for "Other"Americans than for Themselves
The experiment found that subjects saw "average Americans" as facing much higher risks than they did personally. The researchers said these results did not, however, reflect unrealistic personal optimism. According to Lerner, many risk estimates last November reflected profound pessimism.

On average, respondents saw a 21 percent chance of being injured in a terrorist attack within the next year as opposed to the 48 percent chance assigned to the average American. "This is still a very gloomy view," Lerner commented.

Respondents had realistic expectations about more-everyday happenings, such as the likelihood of getting the flu.

Carnegie Mellon scientists say a follow-up study will assess whether Americans' estimates of risk will have changed a year later, as well as examining the accuracy of their initial risk estimates.

NATO workshop Focuses on Terrorism
The meeting at NATO headquarters, where the findings were presented, was the first scientific workshop co-sponsored by NATO and Russia to gather scientists from around the world to consider the psychological and social consequences of chemical, biological, and radiological terrorism - and to advise policy makers on prevention and mitigation measures. A preliminary summary of the meeting and this report appears on the NATO Web site,http://www.nato.int/science/e/020325-arw2.htm.

Study Advances New Experimental Methods for Examining Emotion and Judgment
Many studies have looked at correlations between emotional responses and risk perceptions. However, no studies with a national sample have experimentally manipulated emotions. According to the researchers, only experimental manipulation, with random assignment to condition, allows one to conclusively examine causal relationships. Other national studies have typically involved correlational designs without experimental manipulations and random assignment, while experimental studies have typically been conducted only in the laboratory. Scientists say the Carnegie Mellon study breaks new ground by marrying the virtues of both methods: It takes experimental methodology outside the laboratory to a nationally representative sample of Americans.
---Carnegie Mellon University


The New York Times

November 4, 2012

Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession

The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
In the report, which appeared Sunday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal, researchers found that the rate between 2008 and 2010 increased four times faster than it did in the eight years before the recession. The rate had been increasing by an average of 0.12 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 through 2007. In 2008, the rate began increasing by an average of 0.51 deaths per 100,000 people a year. Without the increase in the rate, the total deaths from suicide each year in the United States would have been lower by about 1,500, the study said.
The finding was not unexpected. Suicide rates often spike during economic downturns, and recent studies of rates in Greece, Spain and Italy have found similar trends. The new study is the first to analyze the rate of change in the United States state by state, using suicide and unemployment data through 2010.
“The magnitude of these effects is slightly larger than for those previously estimated in the United States,” the authors wrote. That might mean that this economic downturn has been harder on mental health than previous ones, the authors concluded.
The research team linked the suicide rate to unemployment, using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Every rise of 1 percent in unemployment was accompanied by an increase in the suicide rate of roughly 1 percent, it found. A similar correlation has been found in some European countries since the recession.
The analysis found that the link between unemployment and suicide was about the same in all regions of the country.
The study was conducted by Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge and Sanjay Basu of Stanford, and included researchers from the University of Bristol, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Hong Kong.

via NYT > Home Page by By BENEDICT CAREY on 11/4/12
The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
Aaron Reeves suicide - GS

  1. US suicide rates up since crisis began
    Independent Online‎ - 3 hours ago
    Suicide rates in the United States have risen sharply since the ... recession,” said Aaron Reeves of Britain's University of Cambridge, who led ...


US suicide rates up since crisis began

Suicide rates in the United States have risen sharply since the economic crisis took hold in 2007 and political leaders should do more to protect Americans' mental health during tough times, researchers said on Monday.
In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, scientists from Britain, Hong Kong and United States said an analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that while suicide rates rose slowly between 1999 and 2007, the rate of increase more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010.
“There is a clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession,” said Aaron Reeves of Britain's University of Cambridge, who led the research and submitted it in a letter to The Lancet.
“In the run-up to the US presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery, (but) missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans' health during these hard times.”
According to Reeves' analysis, around 1500 more people a year in the United States have committed suicide since 2007 compared to numbers that would have been expected if the 1997 to 2007 trends had continued.
The model used to analyse the data - one also recently used to estimate the effect of recession on suicide rates in England - showed unemployment may account for around a quarter of the excess suicides in the US since 2007, Reeves said.
Similar rises in suicide rates have also been found in Greece, Spain, Britain and other countries hit by economic recession and rising unemployment in recent years.
“Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis,” Reeves said. - Reuters


US suicide rates have risen sharply since economic crisis


Christine Bohan
by Christine Bohan - in 244 Google+ circles - More by Christine Bohan
6 hours ago – The research is published today in The Lancet. Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge who led the research said that the data followed ...


US suicide rates have risen sharply since economic crisis

Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010, echoing the findings of similar research in Ireland.

Image: ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock
SUICIDE RATES IN America have risen sharply since the economic crisis kicked in almost five years ago, according to a major study published today.
Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010.
The study found that an estimated 1,500 additional suicides have taken place in the US every year since 2007 compared to the number that would have been expected if trends from the previous decade had continued. The research is published today in The Lancet.
Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge who led the research said that the data followed trends in other countries which have been hit hard by the economic crisis.
“In the run-up to the US Presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery,” he said.
“Missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans’ health during these hard times. Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis, as revealed by recent research in Spain and Greece”.
The study also echoes similar research in Ireland which has found that suicide rates have increased as the economy has tumbled and unemployment rates have increased. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show 525 people took their own lives in Ireland in 2011, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year.
A recent study by the National Suicide Research Foundation examined almost 200 cases of suicide in Cork over three years and found that the recession has had a direct impact on suicide rates. Almost one third of suicide victims had worked in construction or related areas which have been disproportionately affected by the downturn. Almost 40 per cent of suicide victims in the study were unemployed.
The authors of the report on the US suicide rates pointed out that some countries such as Sweden have managed to avoid increased rates of suicide during the economic downturn, suggesting that some countries have been better at promoting mental health resilience during difficult times.
If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article please call Aware at 1890 303 302 or the Samaritans at 1850 60 90 90, or email jo@samaritans.org.


Selected Online First articles from The Lancet journals ahead of print publication.
  • Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession
    Correspondence The Lancet (online November 5)

Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession - GS


 suicide unemployment - GS


suicide unemployment loss of social status - GS


suicide loss of social status - GS


Rise in suicides blamed on impact of recession | Society | The ...

www.guardian.co.uk › NewsSocietySuicide ratesCached
14 Aug 2012 – Male suicides increased by 3.6% as joblessness rose 25%, with unemployment ... on their lives of the economic recession, according to a new analysis. ... She said: "This research gives us credible evidence that the suicide rate in England is ... policies can mitigate the increase in suicide during recession.

Rise in suicides blamed on impact of recession

Male suicides increased by 3.6% as joblessness rose 25%, with unemployment linked to 1,000 deaths from 2008-10

, health editor

  • The Guardian,

    More than 1,000 people in the UK may have killed themselves because of the impact on their lives of the economic recession, according to a new analysis.
    Suicides tend to rise in hard economic times, and there has been evidence of the numbers increasing in Greece and more recently in Italy as people have lost their jobs and struggled to support themselves and their families.
    A paper published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the same pattern is now visible in Britain.
    The suicide rate had been dropping steadily in the UK for 20 years before the recession hit, but in 2007-2008 it rose by 8% among men and 9% among women.
    Academics from the Universities of Liverpool and Cambridge, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, investigated the figures to try to establish whether the recession was the cause.
    They looked at information on suicides in 93 regions held by the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database for the decade from 2000-2010, and also examined from the Office for National Statistics the numbers of unemployed people claiming benefits.
    They found that the suicide rate among men rose by 1.4% for every 10% increase in unemployment.
    Between 2008-2010, they say, 846 more men ended their life than would have been expected had the downward trend continued; the corresponding number for women was an extra 155 suicides.
    On average, male unemployment rose by 25.6% in each of those years, while the male suicide rate rose by 3.6% each year. When male employment rates rose briefly in 2010, the suicide rate dropped slightly.
    Ben Barr, of the public health department at Liverpool University, one of the study's authors, said joblessness, financial worries, debt and housing issues were probably all factors behind the suicide rise. But he said: "There has been a large amount of evidence from other studies and other countries that shows that unemployment is a particular risk factor for suicide."
    There was a need for policies to promote employment and also to safeguard services that could help those who had lost their jobs, Barr said.
    He added: "In some areas, where cuts are occurring they are affecting services that might help mitigate the effects of job loss on mental health. A lot of the charities working in the poorest parts of the country, or on mental health problems and people out of work, are potentially at risk.
    "There are countries where you don't see such a relationship [between unemployment and suicide]. Those countries tend to be those [with] good employment protection and wellbeing support, such as those in Scandinavia."
    Clare Wyllie, the Samaritans' head of policy and research, said the link between increased suicides and unemployment was well established.
    She said: "This research gives us credible evidence that the suicide rate in England is linked to the current recession. We've seen calls to the helpline from people worried about financial difficulties double since the onset of the economic crisis. In 2008, one in 10 calls to the helpline were about financial issues, now that's one in five.
    "There is evidence that government investment in welfare and active labour market policies can mitigate the increase in suicide during recession.
    "The research also points to important gender differences in suicide. Samaritans is researching how social expectations of men contribute to the considerably higher rate of suicide in men."



    On Psychiatric Epidemiology

    On Psychiatric Epidemiology

    References and Links

    psychiatric epidemiology - GS

    Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
    The International Journal for Research in Social and Genetic Epidemiology and Mental Health Services
    Editor-in-Chief: P. Bebbington
    ISSN: 0933-7954 (print version)
    ISSN: 1433-9285 (electronic version)
    Journal no. 127
    Read online on SpringerLink



    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Mike Nova's starred items - 12:39 PM 11/3/2012

    12:39 PM 11/3/2012
    via A List's Facebook Wall by A List on 11/3/12

    I Heart Unpredictable Love
    Why our brains push us toward unexpected affection and rewards.

    via NYT > Arts by By BEN BRANTLEY on 11/2/12
    A new staging of “The Heiress,” adapted from a Henry James novella, stars Jessica Chastain in a bluntly drawn outline of the title character.

    Mitt Romney’s advance team has emerged one of the few consistently high-functioning arms of his campaign.

    via NYT > Internet by By BRIAN STELTER and JENNIFER PRESTON on 11/2/12
    Governors and others from North Carolina to Maine are using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach constituents unable to watch television.

    via NYT > U.S. by By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on 11/1/12
    A federal audit of the authority that runs two of metropolitan Washington’s major airports has criticized how the agency is managed.

    via NYT > U.S. by By ETHAN BRONNER on 11/2/12
    Thousands of lawyers from both presidential campaigns will enter polling places next Tuesday with one central goal: tracking their opponents and, if need be, initiating legal action.

    via NYT > U.S. by By JAMES RISEN on 11/2/12
    One sergeant’s account of abuse suggests that more than 20 years after Tailhook, the infamous 1991 scandal involving Navy fighter pilots, little has changed in the insular fighter pilot culture.

    via NYT > U.S. by on 11/2/12
    About four days after Hurricane Sandy, long lines for gas and crowded commutes dominate daily life.

    Residents of Long Beach, N.Y., begin the cleanup after Hurricane Sandy.