Parents’ Job Loss Can Increase Suicide Behaviors Among Black Adolescents and Teenagers

dukeuniversitylogoA study led by researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, finds that when mass layoffs occur in the general population, there is a corresponding rise in suicide-related behaviors among adolescents and teenagers in the area where the layoffs occurred. This is particularly true for African American adolescents and teenagers, according to the study.

The study is based on a nationally representative survey of 403,457 adolescents from 1997 to 2009. The study also examined mass layoffs and closings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study found that when 1 percent of a state’s working population lost jobs, suicide-related behaviors increased by 2 to 3 percentage points among African American adolescents in that state the following year. Among Black teenagers, thoughts of suicide, suicide plans, and suicide attempts all increased.

Anna Gassman-Pines, an assistant professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a faculty fellow of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and the lead author of the study, states that “job loss can be an unanticipated shock to a community. We know that suicide increases among adults when communities are hit with widespread layoffs. Now we have evidence that teenagers are similarly affected.”

The article, “Effects of Statewide Job Losses on Adolescent Suicide-Related Behaviors,” was published on the website of the American Journal of Public Health. It may be accessed here.

Below is a video of Dr. Gassman-Pines discussing the study.

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