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Mass Job Loss Connected To Suicidal Behavior

Teen Suicide

A new study out of Duke University shows there is a direct correlation between mass job layoffs and a spike in suicide-related behavior among girls and African American teenagers.

Anna Gassman-Pines found when 1 percent of a state’s working population lost their jobs, suicide-related behaviors increased by 2 to 3 percentage points among girls and black adolescents in the following year. 

Gassman-Pines is lead author of the study, "Effects of Statewide Job Losses on Adolescent Suicide-Related Behaviors."

The Duke Public Policy professor said African American teens are much more likely to be in families directly affected by job loss.

“And they’re also in families that have lower levels of wealth compared to their white counterparts," said Gassman-Pines.  "And so their families may be less likely to buffer them from the negative economic changes that are going on around them.”

And Gassman-Pines said job loss can be an unanticipated shock.  Suicide is the third most common cause of death among young people between 10 and 24 years old.

"Mental health professionals, teachers, coaches, other people that work with adolescents might want to be awware of the fact that even though these teens probably aren't the ones who lost jobs, they are never the less affected by job losses in their state."

The study analyzed a nationally representative survey of more than 400,000 adolescents from 1997 to 2009.

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

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of “Due South” – WUNC’s new daily radio show. The program takes a panoramic view of race, southern culture, politics and place – stories Leoneda has reported on for more than 20 years at WUNC – North Carolina Public Radio. Leoneda is the recipient of Gracie awards from the Alliance of Women in Media, awards from the Associated Press and the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). She was part of the WUNC team who won an Alfred I. DuPont Award for the series, “North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty.” In 2017, Leoneda was named “Journalist of Distinction” by the National Association of Black Journalists. Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University (B.S.) and Columbia University (M.S) where she was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics & Business Journalism. Leoneda also studied Environmental Justice as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at The University of Michigan. Leoneda has produced stories from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Her international reporting fellowships include trips to Berlin, Tokyo, Durban, South Africa and Seoul. Leoneda’s essay, “Everybody Is Cheering for You,” is in the book, “HBCU Made – A Celebration of the Black College Experience,” release date January 2024. Leoneda is the proud mother of two sons, Jean Christian and Teemer Seuline Barry.
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