The suicide epidemic: Social, economic, or both?

Economic stress certainly plays a part. America’s suicide rate of 13 per 100,000 in 2014 was the highest since 1986. But that was much lower than during the Great Depression, when the suicide rate hit 22 per 100,000.

However, the Depression was an economic calamity unimaginable to many living today. The economic collapse produced an unemployment rate of 25 percent. The jobless rate in 2014 never reached 7 percent.

And unlike their Depression-era ancestors, Americans in 2014 had some social safety nets. They had health coverage thanks to Obamacare, disability for those who could get it, unemployment checks following layoffs and, for older people, the option of taking Social Security.