Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study found that middle-aged people faced with foreclosure were the most vulnerable.
For the study, the researchers analyzed foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010. During those five years, the U.S. suicide rate increased nearly 13 percent, while annual home foreclosures hit a record 2.9 million in 2010.
“It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways,” said Jason Houle, an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College. “The loss of a home clearly impacts individuals and families, and can arouse feelings of loss, shame, or regret. At the same time, rising foreclosure rates affect entire communities because they’re associated with a number of community level resources and stresses, including an increase in crime, abandoned homes, and a sense of insecurity.”
The effects of foreclosures on suicides were strongest among adults 46 to 64 years old, who also experienced the highest increase in suicide rates during the recessionary period, the researchers reported.
“Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged,” Houle said. “Middle-aged adults are more likely to own homes and have a higher risk of home foreclosure. They’re also nearing retirement age, so losing assets at that stage in life is likely to have a profound effect on mental health and well-being.”
Houle and co-author Michael Light, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, note this is one of the first studies to show a correlation between foreclosure rates and suicide rates.
Source: Dartmouth College