Mass layoffs linked to increased teen suicide attempts

August 14, 2014, Duke University

Mass layoffs may trigger increased suicide attempts and other suicide-related behaviors among some teenagers, says new research from Duke University.

Lead author Anna Gassman-Pines found that when 1 percent of a state's working population lost jobs, suicide-related behaviors increased by 2 to 3 percentage points among girls and black adolescents in the following year. Among girls, thoughts of suicide and suicide plans rose. Among black teens, thoughts of suicide, suicide plans and suicide attempts all increased.

"Job loss can be an unanticipated shock to a community," said Gassman-Pines, who teaches public policy at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and is a faculty fellow of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. "We know that suicide increases among adults when communities are hit with widespread layoffs. Now we have evidence that teenagers are similarly affected."

The study, which appears online Aug. 14 in the American Journal of Public Health, is based on a nationally representative survey of 403,457 adolescents from 1997 to 2009. Gassman-Pines also examined and closings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau defines a mass closing as a layoff affecting more than 50 workers.

In their analysis, Gassman-Pines and her Duke co-authors Elizabeth Ananat and Christina Gibson-Davis controlled for confounding variables, such as poverty rate and overall unemployment.

"Job loss was not simply a proxy for other aspects of the state's economic climate, but instead represented a meaningful economic shock, which led to changes in girls' and black adolescents' suicide-related behaviors," Gassman-Pines writes.

For girls, economic hardship appears to have worsened existing tendencies. On the whole, have higher rates of suicide ideation and planning than boys. Rates of are higher among black teenagers than among white teens.

Suicide is the third most common cause of death among American youths ages 10 to 24, causing 4,600 deaths annually. An even larger group of 157,000 youths ages 10 to 24 are treated for self-inflicted wounds each year. Gassman-Pines said she hopes the research may help identify teens who could be risks.

Explore further: Poor sleep quality increases suicide risk for older adults, study finds

More information: "Statewide Job Losses Increase Adolescent Suicide-Related Behaviors," Anna Gassman-Pines, Elizabeth O. Ananat and Christina Gibson-Davis. American Journal of Public Health, August 14, 2014. DOI: 0.2105/AJPH.2014.302081

Related Stories

Poor sleep quality increases suicide risk for older adults, study finds

August 13, 2014
Older adults suffering from sleep disturbances are more likely to die by suicide than well-rested adults, according to a study led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

New research to help predict teen suicide

August 8, 2014
Health practitioners will be better equipped to predict self-harm or suicide attempts in adolescents as a result of a University of Queensland study on psychosis in young people.

After years of improving, rates of youth suicide-related behaviors stopped declining

March 7, 2014
A new study from St. Michael's Hospital found that, after four years of declining, the rates of teenagers coming into Ontario emergency departments with suicide-related behaviours stopped dropping between 2006 and 2010.

US hospitals see big rise in drug-related suicide attempts

August 7, 2014
(HealthDay)—Drug-related suicide attempts in the United States increased over a recent six-year period, with dramatic increases seen among young and middle-aged adults, health officials reported Thursday.

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.