The Great Recession Probably Caused 7000 to 10000 excess suicides in the USA but saved lives by reducing car travel

In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-09 recession. A new book [The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills] estimates that 4,750 ‘excess’ suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009.”

From 2007 to 2014 there have likely been 7000 to 10000 excess suicides.

In the latest year for which there are good numbers, 2011, there were about 38,000 suicides in America, compared to 32,000 motor vehicle deaths and 15,000 homicides.

The numbers are interesting and suicide needs to be reduced. However, boiling the ocean to cook fish is not a good idea. Suicide deaths are not a justification for trillion in economic stimulation.

The Great Recession also was part of reduced motor vehicle deaths. so more suicides but fewer car deaths

Car Deaths, billions of vehicle miles, fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles

Do not have to have so many suicides or car deaths

Sweden’s roads have one third death rate of US because of smarter planning and priortizing saving lives over speed or convenience.

In 2013, 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden, a record low. Although the number of cars in circulation and the number of miles driven have both doubled since 1970, the number of road deaths has fallen by four-fifths during the same period. With only three of every 100,000 Swedes dying on the roads each year, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, 11.4 in America and 40 in the Dominican Republic, which has the world’s deadliest traffic, Sweden’s roads have become the world’s safest. Other places such as New York City are now trying to copy its success. How has Sweden done it?

In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. “We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads,” says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.

Suicides could also be more directly addressed instead of any indirect plan dependent upon trillions to stimulate the whole economy.

Background Charts on the Great Recession

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