Studies: Foreclosures Literally Bad for Your Health?

A little bit grizzlier than I would have wanted for a Sunday morning, but here it is anyways. 

A recent study, described below, by a Dartmouth professor found that state foreclosure rates may have been linked to suicide rates at the state level.  Previously, a different study had potentially linked foreclosures to increased blood pressure for the neighborhood - not just for those people actually in foreclosure. 

As if there weren't reason enough to get a handle on foreclosures - economic stabilization and economic justice and the like - now it looks like there may be another - public health.

The Dartmouth professor's study:

"Appearing in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health, is the first to show a correlation between foreclosure and suicide rates.

The authors analyzed state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010. During that period, the U.S. suicide rate increased by nearly 13 percent, and the number of annual home foreclosures hit a record 2.9 million (in 2010).

'It seems that foreclosures affect suicide rates in two ways,' says co-author Jason Houle, an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth. 'The loss of a home clearly impacts individuals and families, and can arouse feelings of loss, shame or regret. At the same time, rising foreclosure rates affect entire communities because they’re associated with a number of community-level resources and stresses, including an increase in crime, abandoned homes, and a sense of insecurity.'

The impact of foreclosures on the incidence of suicides was strongest among adults 46 to 64 years old; those in this age group also experienced the highest increase in suicide rates during the recessionary period.

. . .

'Foreclosures are a unique suicide risk among the middle-aged,' Houle says. 'Middle-aged adults are more likely to own homes and have a higher risk of home foreclosure. They’re also nearing retirement age, so losing assets at that stage in life is likely to have a profound effect on mental health and well-being.'" (link)