By Gerri Elder
As the state of the economy continues to worsen and more people face the inevitability of bankruptcy or foreclosure, officials worry that financial problems are leading to an increase in violence as people are pushed to the edge.
CNN reported that in many areas of the country, mental health hotlines are flooded with calls, domestic shelters are overflowing, and counseling services are in demand.
The current financial crisis in the United States is being called the worst since the Great Depression and many people say that the devastation across the country is mounting to the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks.
Many people who feel completely helpless are calling suicide prevention hotlines to talk about their problems. The Samaritans of New York have seen the volume of calls rise more than 16 percent in the past year, with many of the calls being related to financial problems. The Switchboard of Miami has already received more than 500 calls from people facing foreclosure this year.
For many people, speaking with a bankruptcy lawyer can also help ease financial frustrations and stress can be relieved by working out a plan to manage or eliminate debt.
Sadly, some people do not get the help that they need, either from a bankruptcy lawyer or suicide hotline. In recent months there have been an increasing number of financial and foreclosure related tragedies.
Most recently, in Los Angeles, California, a former money manager murdered his wife, three sons and his mother-in-law before turning the gun on himself. He left a suicide note saying that he was in deep financial trouble and had considered killing only himself, but decided that it was more honorable to kill his entire family before committing suicide.
Prior to that, a woman in Tennessee fatally shot herself as sheriff's deputies were arriving to evict her from her home. The deputies were across the street when they heard the gunshot and then found the woman dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The couple had reportedly been granted an extra 10 days to appeal the foreclosure.
On October 1, in Akron, Ohio, a 90-year-old widow shot herself in the chest as authorities arrived to evict her from her home. The woman is recovering and Fannie Mae decided not to foreclose on the home where she has lived for 38 years.
In Ocala, Florida, a man set fire to his home, which was in foreclosure, after shooting his wife and his dog. The man then killed himself. This is one of many sad cases in which people faced with foreclosure have killed spouses or pets, destroyed homes or launched an attack on police officers before committing suicide.
One woman shot and killed herself because her family's home was in foreclosure. She had hidden the financial crisis from her husband until the end. She left a suicide note and an insurance policy on a table in the home where she died. Before committing suicide, she reportedly faxed a note to the mortgage company, telling them that she would be dead before they foreclosed on the property. Unfortunately, she was right.
Experts say that the economic crisis is causing chronic anxiety among people who feel that they have no alternatives. These people can sometimes panic or "snap" due to anger and take drastic measures.
There is generally a two-year lag in national suicide statistics, therefore the link between the economy and suicides are not yet clear. However, suicides have historically increased during hard financial times.