The Business Cycle & the Suicide Rate


The press is all abuzz about the suicide rate is up 33% in 20 years and they blame the lack of funding as if this alone will cure the problem. They never seem to simply correlate this with economics. Now we have more than 47,000 Americans committed suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also said that this is contributing to an overall decline in U.S. life expectancy rate. Even in Japan, there is a place known as the Suicide Cliffs. People jump from the cliffs in Japan cyclically. They jump during financial crises more than during any other period. They also will commit suicide when winter ends and the sun returns. People then see the requirement of returning to a routine they view as their torment and misery.  In Japan, the intense pressure of Japanese schools has also been seen as a major contributing factor.

As the largest continent in the World, Asia accounts for about 60% of World suicides with China, India, and Japan accounting for about 40% of the World’s suicides. On an international basis, there are about 1 million suicides that take place every year. The difference in the suicide methods between the Western and Asian countries is rather significant. While in financial centers jumping from buildings also took place in New York and Chicago during the Great Depression, there were also jumpers in Japan from the Panic of 1990. The use of firearms is the favored suicide method in many Western countries, but not in Asia perhaps due to the lack of access. Asian suicides often take the form of pesticide ingestion, charcoal burning, and self-immolation. Hanging seems to be also a leading suicide method both in the East and the West, as well as in prisons. Prison suicides will also take the form of deliberately trying to create a lethal confrontation with someone to get killed as they are compelled to engage in self-defense.

Suicides correlate to economic hardship which can be personal or imposed upon by society and the business cycle. The higher the tax rate and the lower the standard of living is also a key factor for people will be driven to commit suicide facing economic failure. As the world economy continues to decline in real growth, it is not surprising that the suicide rate has increased by 33% since 1999 in the United States alone. This trend is part of the cycle. When people face that decision of whether to stay or to go into the light seeking relief and peace, sometimes they will take their entire family with them because the pain is so great yet they have responsibilities they also cannot leave behind. They will take their family in their mind relieving them of the same pain.


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