Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Deadliest Kind of Economic Depression

Here’s a sobering kind of economic indicator: The number of suicides peak at the lowest point of a recession, according to Elizabeth Bernstein’s thoughful piece, “Angst Is Rising, but Many Must Forgo Therapy” in today’s Wall Street Journal Online.
Mind you, as a clinician on the front lines every single day, I haven’t seen evidence of this spike yet. In fact, I don’t think the recession or a depression will particularly affect the most seriously mentally ill patients. After all, they are on the receiving end of government benefits which, barring social cataclysm, is unlikely to end.
The people I worry about, though, are the middle-class clients, squeezed in every way possible. These are the folks who could lose their benefits if they lose their jobs, who are having to scale back just to feed their gas tanks, who are paying soaring prices at the grocery, and who have virtually no safety net, unlike the rich and the poor. They are, in my opinion, most at-risk for stopping or curtailing therapy, becoming more depressed and finally attempting suicide, some of them successfully.
See Bernstein’s article for a discussion on how many therapists and clients are managing in this miserable climate.
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