Health + Behavior

Poverty may have a greater effect on suicide rates than do unemployment or foreclosures

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A study co-authored by UCLA professor Mark Kaplan determined that suicide rates in the U.S. are closely correlated to poverty rates, and that there was little relationship between suicide rates and unemployment or home foreclosure rates.

The study was conducted by the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group in collaboration with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Oregon Health and Science University, the Prevention Research Center and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data from 2005 to 2011, a period that included the Great Recession. It was the first research that attempted to explain how different aspects of such a downturn affect suicide rates and alcohol-related suicides in particular, and the first to suggest that poverty may play a more significant role in suicide rates than unemployment does.

“The analysis … draws attention to the importance of targeting suicide prevention efforts in economically disadvantaged communities and incorporating alcohol control policies, abuse prevention and treatment for alcohol misuse into such efforts,” said Kaplan, a UCLA professor of social welfare.

Read the full news release.

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