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Financial Strain Tied to Higher Risk for Suicide Attempts - Variables of Debt, Housing Instability, Unemployment, Low Income Together Increase Risk 20-Fold

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Financial strain is associated with an increased risk for suicide attempts and should be considered when assessing mental health, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Eric Elbogen, Ph.D., from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues used data from 34,653 individuals participating in wave 1 (2001 to 2002) and wave 2 (2004 to 2005) of the U.S. National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to assess the relationship between financial strain and suicide attempts.

The researchers found that cumulative financial strain was predictive of suicide attempts between waves 1 and 2 (odds ratio [OR], 1.53) when controlling for demographic and clinical factors. Subsequent suicide attempts were associated with wave 1 financial debt/crisis (OR, 1.58), unemployment (OR, 1.52), past homelessness (OR, 1.50), and lower income (OR, 1.51). There was a 20 times higher predicted probability of attempting suicide among respondents endorsing the previous four financial-strain variables versus respondents endorsing none of them. Similar results were seen for suicidal ideation.

"Our study, while assessing this connection using pre-COVID data, shows a direct risk that should raise alarm as millions of people experience economic hardship resulting from the pandemic," Elbogen said in a statement.

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