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Study Finds Link between Foreclosures and Suicide Rates in the US

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May 17, 2014 10:42 AM EDT
Realtor Mac McCollum stands in front of a foreclosed home in Bullhead City, Arizona, November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Realtor Mac McCollum stands in front of a foreclosed home in Bullhead City, Arizona, November 4, 2009. (Photo : REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

New study links foreclosures to suicide rates in the U.S. 

A new study, conducted by Dartmouth and Purdue professors, found a co-relation between foreclosure and suicide rates.

The study was based on data of state-level foreclosure and suicide rates between 2005 and 2010. Researchers found that the suicide rate during the study period was 13 percent. In 2010, the foreclosure rate reached a record high of 2.9 million.

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Recently, a related study published in the journal Circulation had reported that living near a foreclosed property increases high blood pressure risk.

"It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways," said co-author Jason Houle, 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."

Back in 2011, an article in New York Times had reported how foreclosures affect public health. People go through a lot of stress, forget doctors' appointments and fail to get prescriptions, which affects their health in the long-run.

A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research had found that people living in areas with more foreclosed properties - like in New Jersey, Arizona, California and Florida - were more likely to be hospitalized due to diabetes, heart problems and hypertension than people living in other regions, NYT reported.

The present study found that middle aged people - those between 46 to 64 years of age - had the highest risk of suicide.

"Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged," Houle said in news release. "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."

The study is published in the journal American Journal of Public Health. 

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