Mass Job Loss Connected To Suicidal Behavior

Aug 15, 2014

Duke study says girls and African American teens experience spike in suicide-related behavior when there is major job loss in their communities.

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.