Facts About Unemployment & Suicide

Losing a job, a home, retirement income, or incurring mounting debt are all linked to a wide variety of negative health outcomes. They can aggravate existing conditions and may create new problems. In some cases they may lead to thoughts of suicide, and with some individuals may lead to suicide attempts and completions.

Do unemployment and financial problems cause suicide?

No, a suicide is usually the result of a process occurring over time involving many interacting biological, psychological, social, and even environmental factors. Unemployment and financial problems contribute to suicide risk, and may bring on other stressors, but do not alone cause suicide.

How do unemployment and financial problems increase suicide risk?

They are often associated with loss of self-esteem and a sense of shame, humiliation or despair. They may make those affected feel less connected or that they are burdens to their families and friends. They especially increase hopelessness, depression, and social isolation, which are all serious risk factors for suicide.

What are other risk factors that unemployment and financial problems may impact?

Serious risk factors that may be affected are a past history of suicidal behavior, existing serious mental illness (particularly with a co-occurring anxiety or panic disorder), alcohol and substance abuse, marital, family, or other interpersonal conflict, and a background involving abuse, trauma, or violence.

Are there population groups that have a high suicide risk?

Anyone may become suicidal, but specific groups at high risk of suicide that may experience unemployment and financial problems include Native Americans, adult white males, veterans and current members of the military, those who own or have access to firearms, and those who have had psychiatric hospitalizations.

What are some ways to lessen risk related to unemployment and financial problems?

Maintain contact with family and friends, engage in activities that relieve stress, focus on things that provide a sense of control, and continue or initiate exercise routines. Consider self-help and mutual support resources. Seek assistance from clergy or a counselor. Adhere to health and mental health treatment regimens.

What are some of the early warning signs of suicide risk?

Contact a mental health or medical provider if you encounter or experience any of these behaviors:

Hopelessness, burdensomeness Rage, anger, revenge, recklessness
Feeling trapped, helplessness Increasing alcohol and/or drug use
Withdrawal from family, friends, activities Anxiety, agitation, sleep problems
Dramatic mood changes No reason for living

What are the immediate danger signs of high suicide risk?

Immediately call MCES (610-279-6100), 9-1-1, or 1-800- 273-TALK (National Suicide Lifeline) if you encounter:

For more information see “Getting through Tough Economic Times” at www.samhsa.gov/economy


If you or someone you know is thinking
about suicide, please call (610)279-6100