Mental Health, Suicide, and the Recession: Help Prevent Suicide by Addressing Material Needs, says Faith-based Website

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Mental illness, anxiety pose new socio-economic challenges for churches, community organizations, says faith-based website,

Depressed man

It is up to church leaders and community organizers to actively seek out the environments where the deadly forces of poverty and mental illness are most likely to mingle.

Churches and community organizations need to understand that “spiritual, physical, and mental well-being are tightly interwoven” in order to help those battling mental illness and suicide, says faith-based website,

That statement came today as a renowned medical journal published findings linking the US recession to significant rises in the number of suicides nationwide.

Researchers at the Lancet found that the rate of increase in national suicides between 2008 and 2010 was four times that of the rate for the previous eight years, according to a Lancet online press release published Monday. From 1999 to 2007, the rate of national suicides increased by a rate of .12 deaths per 100,000 people. However, from 2008 to 2010, that rate has increased by .51 deaths per 100,000 people annually, the press release states.

Aaron Reeves, a research associate at the University of Cambridge in England, led the Lancet study. Researchers from Stanford University, the University of Bristol in England, and the University of Hong Kong also took part in the study. Gathering data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group concluded that, with every 1 per cent increase in unemployment, there is a 1 per cent increase in the suicide rate, the press release states.

The study’s authors argue that the suicide rate reflects a greater mental health crisis. “Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis,” Reeves said in a journal news release.

And the US is not alone, argued the New York Times on Monday. European nations, too, have seen a rise in suicide rates since the beginning of the global recession, the Times reported.

So can community organizations and churches do anything to curb the rising suicide rates? is a faith-based website that provides spiritual resources for those wrestling with suicidal thoughts and mental illness. Its leaders suggest that the Lancet study sheds light on an often-overlooked factor of spiritual well-being: financial stability.

“Financial hardship is a driving force for not only suicide but for all sorts of mental health problems. The [Lancet] study illustrates that connection. Now it is up to church leaders and community organizers to actively seek out the environments where the deadly forces of poverty and mental illness are most likely to mingle,” says Pastor Jamie of

“Spiritual, physical, and mental well-being are tightly interwoven. If churches can recognize suicidal symptoms and connect hurting people to helpful resources about suicide and mental illness, then they will be able to lessen the spiritual effects of recession in their communities,” he said.

For more information, please visit

The full text of the Lancet’s study, “Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession,” is available online November 5.

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