Article 43


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012


About a month ago I wrote THIS:

If I told you I’m not suffering DEBILITATING DEPRESSION and numbing fear from the hopelessness and painful awareness of the lack of job prospects for LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED, middle-class, baby boomers, or emptiness and deep sadness of LOSS and loneliness from being single with no wife or kids for support, and DISAPPEARING FRIENDS that shun me like I’m a leper - I’d be lying.

If I told you I can rise above this mental and emotional anguish like the Buddhists who claim suffering is a result of temptation - I’d be lying too.

Next stop in life for this HOPELESSLY UNEMPLOYED American is to be shed AGAIN of all DIGNITY, self-esteem and attachments - cause NO JOB = no money to pay the mortgage, and the ultimate failure of not being able to provide for one’s self, loved ones, or the greater good.

Just in time for another THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS.

Thank God I don’t have kids.

But I wish I had some hope.


When one looses the will to struggle, and the capacity for hope, one is no longer living.

I applied for about 50 jobs since writing that post just a few short weeks ago - hundreds - if not thousands - over the year - clinging to the possibility my LUCK WOULD CHANGE, and a meaningful job appear.

But one hasn’t.  In the coming year our GOVERNMENT will most likely continue and accelerate it’s ASSAULT on everyone BUT THE RICH AND INFLUENTIAL by squeezing us with EUROPE-LIKE, society-killing AUSTERITY programs - stalling job growth, and cutting social programs that made this country great. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT will GET WORSE, and ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY will shrink.

There comes a time in life when a person stops moving forward, and looks back.

Maybe that’s what it means to give up.

I took my last trip to visit my elderly mom this Thanksgiving. 

No more money.
No more HOPE.
No more HEART.

When I told mom I still don’t have a job, and don’t have the money to fly up to see her anymore, and may not have a house for her to come live out her old age - she started crying.

I didn’t.

The inner pain is so bad, it’s like my emotions turned to ice after over eight years of DEALING with the economic realities THAT HIT middle-aged TECHIES LIKE ME real HARD.

I’m too angry inside, and feel too worthless to experience love or compassion.

My heart.
My soul.
Every cell of MY BEING.
Is almost DEAD.


The association between suicide and unemployment is more important than the association with other socioeconomic measures. Although some potentially important confounders were not adjusted for, the findings support the idea that unemployment or lack of job security increases the risk of suicide and that social and economic policies that reduce unemployment will also reduce the rate of suicide.
- Suicide, deprivation, and unemployment: record linkage study

Unemployment is Killing People

By Jeff Kaye
The Dissenter
August 17, 2011

When considering the effects of unemployment, and the desultory, really uncaring response of the current Democratic administration, as well as Republicans in Congress, to the human devastation of joblessness, it is important to consider the terrible emotional and psychological effects of such unemployment. Such effects are well-documented, but rarely mentioned in articles or blog postings.

A well-regarded 2010 STUDY by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, “The Anguish of Unemployment,” quantified the tremendous emotional suffering engendered by unemployment. “The lack of income and loss of health benefits hurts greatly, but losing the ability to provide for my wife and myself is killing me emotionally,” wrote one respondent to the survey. (See PDF for Powerpoint presentation of results.)

Just last April, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study that showed that suicide rates rise and fall in tandem with the business cycle. The study covered the years 1928-2007. According to the CDC PRESS RELEASE:

The overall suicide rate rises and falls in connection with the economy, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released online today by the American Journal of Public Health. The study, “Impact of Business Cycles on the U.S. Suicide Rates, 1928-2007” is the first to examine the relationships between age-specific suicide rates and business cycles. The study found the strongest association between business cycles and suicide among people in prime working ages, 25-64 years old.

“Knowing suicides increased during economic recessions and fell during expansions underscores the need for additional suicide prevention measures when the economy weakens,” said James Mercy, Ph.D., acting director of CDCs Injury Center’s Division of Violence Prevention. “It is an important finding for policy makers and those working to prevent suicide.”

As a practicing psychologist, seeing clients for almost 20 years, I can say that the current economic depression has had a terrible effect on the people I see. I have also heard about more suicides in a short period of time than I have in years actually, ever. While this could be a statistical fluke, and I myself would never draw stark conclusions from the sample of one clinician, the spike in reported suicides is certainly something that fits the known epidemiological risks that accompany high unemployment.

Because of confidentiality issues, I can’t talk about my own clients, but let’s consider some other academic studies over the years about the effects of economic stressors, such as unemployment.

“After unemployment, symptoms of somatization, depression, and anxiety were significantly greater in the unemployed than employed.

Controlling for a number of individual characteristics, unemployed individuals are found to suffer significantly higher odds of experiencing a marked rise in anxiety, depression and loss of confidence and a reduction in self-esteem and the level of general happiness even compared with individuals in low-paid employment. This finding highlights the involuntary nature of unemployment.”

“Unemployment was associated with an increased risk of suicide and death from undetermined causes. Low education, personality characteristics, use of sleeping pills or tranquilizers, and serious or long-lasting illness tended to strengthen the association between unemployment and early mortality.”

“Unemployed individuals had lower psychological and physical well-being than did their employed counterparts.”

“SPRC conducted a literature review of relevant research published in the past two decades. The review shows that a strong relationship exists between unemployment, the economy, and suicide. A common ‘chain of adversity’ can begin with job loss and move toward depression through financial strain and loss of personal control. In fact, this chain leads to myriad financial, social, health and mental health outcomes - all of them negative. The most common (but by no means the only) mental health outcome is depression, which significantly increases suicide risk. The associated financial outcomes (such as mortgage foreclosures and loss of retirement security) have not been researched with respect to suicide. However, the potential link is that for vulnerable individuals, losses (whether real or anticipated) that result in humiliation, shame, or despair can trigger suicide attempts.

“There was a strong independent association between suicide and individuals who were unemployed (odds ratio 2.6; 95% confidence interval 2.0 to 3.4) and permanently sick (2.5; 1.6 to 4.0). The association between suicide and unemployment is more important than the association with other socioeconomic measures.”

“Socioeconomic events are known to produce important fluctuations in suicide mortality. Unemployment, in particular, seems related to suicide risk along direct and indirect pathways. Blakely and co- workers paper in this issue adds to evidence indicating a causal association between unemployment and suicide. Their results indicate that this association is not attributable to confounding factors linked to the socioeconomic status and that it is only partly related to health selection or mental disorders.”
- UNEMPLOYEMENT AND SUICIDE. Journal of Epidemiological Community Health, 2003.

Anemic Jobs Help from Washington Assures More Suffering

According to news reports, President Barack Obama has announced that he will be proposing in September a “jobs package” meant to stimulate job growth. The program, which reportedly will include yet more tax cuts, along with some infrastructure spending, appears yet another tepid approach to a problem that is seriously affecting millions of people. In fact, the government has sat and twiddled its thumbs while millions have languished in despair.

Unemployment is deadly. The effects of the capitalist boom-and-bust system seriously damage millions of lives. But with an almost daily bombast of propaganda about terrorism, the populace lives in fear, while wondering how they will make their bills, ground down between anxiety over ghostly terrorists and eviction, or how to put gas in their car, or afford a bus pass. Hopelessness stalks the land, not Al Qaeda. And yet the politicians in D.C. care little or nothing about the suffering their policies cause. Indeed, their pockets are lined with campaign donations from corporations that routinely layoff hundreds of thousands, and ship many thousands more jobs overseas.

Callous disregard for human lives is what links the terrible policies of war and torture with the policies of neglect and indifference towards the jobless. Such callousness is the by-product of a get-rich-quick ethos that worships profit over all else, over worship of a capitalist system that has brought about terrible world wars, massive depressions, colonial atrocities, and even genocide. U.S. society awaits its turn through the meat-grinder of history.

Meanwhile, the politicians only care about getting re-elected. Indeed, the blogosphere is too infected with following the minutiae of the fake political campaigns, while daily, minute by minute, people’s lives are destroyed. Somewhere today, perhaps while you were reading this, someone has taken their life because they felt useless, with no hope of gainful employment, their self-esteem ground down, the sense of meaning and connection severed by redundancy and societal disconnection.

We need dramatic, radical change in this country, and we need it now. For many thousands, however, it will come too late. How many more individual lives, how many more families lives will be shattered by mental illness and suicide due to joblessness? The right to a job is the most fundamental of human rights.



Japan: ending the culture of the ‘honourable’ suicide
Reducing the growing suicide rate in Japan will require tackling the cultural interpretation of it as a noble act

By Andrew Chambers
The Guardian
August 3, 2010

A recent REPORT by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has noted “strong evidence of a link between economic hardship and suicide”. In 2009 there was a 24% year-on-year increase in suicides in the Republic of Ireland, while the most recently available FIGURES IN THE UK show that the beginning of the economic downturn in 2007-8 resulted in a 6% rise.

With the SAMARITANS’ warning that it is “vital that the government is committed to a suicide prevention strategy”, it is worth considering Japan’s experience. JAPANESE SUICIDE RATES rocketed following the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s and, despite recent initiatives, Japan has struggled both politically and socially to fully address the problem.

For at least a decade now there have been MOE THAN 30,000 ANNUAL SUICIDE CASES - equating to almost one every 15 minutes. In 2007, cabinet minister TOSHIKATSU MATSOUKA killed himself while facing investigation over an expenses scandal. Later that year the Japanese government launched a WHITE PAPER to radically reform how suicide was perceived and treated, promising better counselling and helpline services.

NAOTO KAN, who recently became prime minister, has repeatedly spoken about the suicide rate - seeing it as indicative of the social decline of the nation. He has stated that his primary political goal is to “minimise unhappiness” in the country.

In 2009, Japan’s SUICIDE TOTAL rose 2% to 32,845, equating to nearly 26 suicides per 100,000 people and significantly higher than for any other OECD country. As a comparison, the UK RATE is about nine per 100,000, and the US rate around 11. In Japan, suicide is now the leading cause of death among men aged 20-44 and women aged 15-34.

This elevated suicide rate is the result of a complex interplay between healthcare provision, social attitudes, cultural influences and economic factors. YUZO KATO, director of the Tokyo Suicide Prevention Centre, explains: “The most common factor behind suicide in Japan is depression caused by a failure to cope with [social pressure] either because of poverty or the demands of work.” The stockmarket crash in 1997 precipitated business failures, loss of savings and unemployment. In 1998 the Japanese suicide total rose by 35%, and has remained above 30,000 a year ever since.

The National Police Agency records financial motivations in about a quarter of all suicides. Many of these are described as inseki-jisatsu (so-called “responsibility-driven” suicides), where people hope to take responsibility for outstanding debts through a life insurance payout. Finance companies regularly have the borrower take out an insurance policy in case of death. In 2005, MORE THAN 3,600 insurance payments to the big five finance companies were actually from suicides.

The financial crisis coincided with the longer-term market-driven restructuring of the Japanese economy. Japan remains a patriarchal society with strong familial and social expectations - however the economic upheaval that accelerated the end of the jobs-for-life culture has left men in particular struggling to cope with job insecurity or the stigma of unemployment. In this period, social inequality (measured on the GINI COEFFICIENT) has also increased - which has been shown in studies to have affected the suicide rates in Japan proportionally more than in other OECD countries.

In Japan, suicide does not have the Judaeo-Christian connotation of sin. Indeed, the inherited cultural notion of romanticised, noble suicide still lingers, especially among the older traditionalists. It would be a mistake to overplay this, but nevertheless the mindset is still apparent. Shintaro Ishihara, the right-wing governor of Tokyo, remarked that cabinet minister Matsuoka was a true Samurai because HE HAD COMMITTED SUICIDE to preserve his honour. Ishihara also recently WROTE THE SCREENPLAY for a film entitled “I go to die for you” which glorified the kamikaze pilots’ self-sacrifice in the second world war.

Mental health provision also needs to improve. Although Japan has a modern and well-equipped health service, the WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION assesses that it still has an “inadequate number of mental health staff providing community care”. Research published in the BRITISH JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY demonstrated that patient access to the latest anti-depressant drugs is still restricted. Meanwhile, a Lancet article noted that with counselling at private clinics not covered by national health insurance, many people are still not getting the help they need.

The Japan Times reports how the country’s LARGEST SUICIDE HELPLINE, Inochi no Denwa (literally, “the telephone of life") struggles to attract enough funding to maintain a free phone number. With 300 volunteers it takes 27,000 calls a year. When this is compared with the 2.4m phone calls the Samaritans in the UK receive it is clear that it needs to become more culturally acceptable to ask for help.

In 2009 the government pledged a further ֥15.8bn (115m) towards suicide prevention policies. However, Andrew Grimes, director of Tokyo Counseling Services warns that with economic problems persisting the government’s aim to reduce suicide rates to 23,000 by 2016 will be difficult to achieve “unless very proactive and well-funded local and nationwide suicide prevention programmes and initiatives are taken immediately”. Reducing the suicide rate will require tackling the cultural interpretation of suicide and mental health conditions, improving work environments, providing better access to mental health services, increasing welfare provision and driving economic growth. These measures also need to be undertaken in the UK - which has seen its own suicide levels increasing following the economic downturn. In Japan, reducing the suicide rate remains a huge task, but at least now there is a real political will to make it happen.


Posted by Elvis on 11/27/12 •
Section Personal
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