Sunday, June 15, 2008

Suicide and Economic Downturn

Hat tip to Mish, I was struck by this article he highlighted on the increase in activity at a suicide hotline, and in particular the increase in percentage of those contemplating suicide that claim economic woes as their primary reason:
A local hot line has seen a dramatic spike in suicide calls from people in Palm Beach County who are facing foreclosure and can't pay their bills, according to numbers released today.

Since the start of the year, 256 people in the county told operators at the 211 hot line that they were thinking about suicide. Of those, 44 told operators that their main reason was that they had lost a job, were facing foreclosure, couldn't afford to pay their bills or were homeless.

During the same period in 2007, from Jan. 1 to June 10, the hot line received 137 suicide calls from people in Palm Beach County. Only 15 of those gave economic reasons.

The callers' problems seem markedly different than in the past, said Susan Buza, executive director of 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast. Many callers, she said, have tried to find work for months.

Buza said she began adding up the numbers after operators noticed a rise in calls from people who could lose their homes.

"When we started looking at it, we were really shocked," she said.
I'm particularly struck by the consequences of economic situations like the one currently facing the US on society at large. The official statistics are starting to paint a more gloomy picture, but it's interesting to see these things first-hand in action. Some things I've noticed:
  • lots more vacant space at local strip / shopping malls
  • more homeless in downtown Seattle areas
  • lines outside the "cash stores" in the morning before they open
  • less traffic congestion - It used to take 45 min for my morning and evening commute of just 15 miles. Now it takes just 20 min.
  • Fewer people taking care of their yards
  • More vacant homes
And this area is supposedly one of the areas better off economically. I'd hate to see what it's like elsewhere.

What are you noticing in your 'hood?

NOTE: I'm moving overseas in about 2 weeks. I'm going to be insanely busy during that time, so posting will continue to be a trickle. I hope to get something up on AB soon (maybe right now if the little one stays asleep for about an hour). I'll be able to get posts up on a more regular schedule once we've moved and settled in.

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