For a brutal reminder of the human side of the unemployment crisis, please read Death and Joblessness by Annie Lowrey in the Washington Independent.
According to the article, the unemployed kill themselves at a rate two or three times that of the national average, and it seems there’s a real connection between an unemployed worker literally at the end of their rope (when jobless benefits end) and when they decide to go through with suicide.
On online fora such as Unemployed-Friends, the topic comes up often, users finding news reports or hearing tell of deaths in their community, and mourning them. There was the Staten Island suicide, where an emergency medical services employee who thought himself about to be fired posted his final words on Facebook: “I can’t go on anymore. I just hung myself.” In Anaheim, Calif., there was the man underwater on his mortgage and awash in credit card debt who shot his wife and and one of his children before himself. His two children survived. His wife did not. In Indiana, there was the middle-aged mother who sent her daughter out to buy soda and killed herself before her daughter came back. That happened the day after the repossession of her Chevy Malibu.
Other stories are more apocryphal. In a post that ginned up dozens of comments and thousands of views on Unemployed-Friends, someone reported a father of three in Michigan had killed himself, writing in his final letter, “I am sorry, I have now lost every ounce of pride I ever had. You will be better off without me.” (The report of the suicide is unconfirmed.) A colleague told me he knew of a local man who killed himself when his unemployment insurance ended, because when his unemployment insurance ended he had no way to pay his child support.
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