The Home Foreclosure Crisis and Rising Suicide Rates, 2005 to 2010

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Abstract

Objectives

We examined the association between state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010 and considered variation in the effect of foreclosure on suicide by age.

Methods

We used hybrid random- and fixed-effects models to examine the relation between state foreclosure rates and total and age-specific suicide rates from 2005 to 2010 (n = 306 state-years).

Results

Net of other factors, an increase in the within-state total foreclosure rate was associated with a within-state increase in the crude suicide rates (b = 0.04; P < .1), and effects were stronger for the real estate-owned foreclosure rate (b = 0.16; P < .05). Analysis of age-specific suicide rates indicated that the effects were strongest among the middle-aged (46-64 years: total foreclosure rate, b = 0.21; P < .001; real estate-owned foreclosure rate, b = 0.83; P < .001). Rising home foreclosure rates explained 18% of the variance in the middle-aged suicide rate between 2005 and 2010.

Conclusions

The foreclosure crisis has likely contributed to increased suicides, independent of other economic factors associated with the recession. Rising foreclosure rates may be partially responsible for the recent uptick in suicide among middle-aged adults.

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