Obviously everyone was not killing themselves, but the suicide rate is one important indicator of the depth of the Recession. U.S. suicide rate increased more than 25% from 1999 to 2016 Suicide rates up more than 30 percent in half of U.S. states, CDC says Suicide rates in nearly every state rose from 1996 to 2016, with increases of more than 30 percent in half the states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report. https://www.c-span.org/video/?446959-6/washington-journal-john-madigan-rising-suicide-rates I read that during the Great Depression, the suicide rate experienced a 50 percent increase. So are we perhaps to infer, by comparison, that the Recession was only about "half as bad" as the Great Depression ? So what are the latest figures, what's happened to the rate since 2016? November 29, 2018 article from Vox: According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017. Put another way, the suicide rate was 14 people in every 100,000 — up 33 percent from 10.5 people per 100,000 in 1999. The suicide rate is at a 50-year peak, according to the AP. The new data shows that there were 2,000 more deaths from suicide last year than in 2016, the year when suicide became the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth-leading cause for middle-aged Americans. https://www.vox.com/science-and-hea.../suicide-rate-highest-decades-life-expectancy That means there was a 4.5% increase from 2016 to 2017. Some of you may be wondering what the latest statistics are, but it's important to consider that there's typically a lag time of one or two years between the time it takes for data to be collected and amalgamated and the time that articles are published about it. (Just the nature of information dispersal)

It seems to me a rather simplistic view to assume this correlation is causation. Why couldn't dynamics of the socio-political climate that lead to recession also lead to an increase in suicides? Couldn't a collective increase in general unhappiness (as one example) cause both?

Yes, you are right. Correlation should not automatically imply causation. I would be curious if you have a more specific theory.

Some of you may be wondering exactly how common it is, and what those published rates actually mean. Let's do some math. The rate in 2017 was 14.0 per 100,000 individuals. (This is per year) The average lifespan in the U.S. is 78.69 years. 14 multiplied by 78.69 equals 1101.66 1101.66 divided by 100,000 equals 0.011 Which suggests that 1.1 percent of the population will die due to suicide (at that rate). But it's worse for men. Males were 3.54 times more likely to die from suicide than females (in 2017). We can do a little bit more math. 3.54 (men) plus 1 women equals 4.54 3.54 divided by 4.54 equals 0.7797 which means about 78 percent of those dying are males. 0.011 multiplied by 0.78 then multiplied 2 (because there are a roughly equal number of males and females) equals 0.01716 which means that males, specifically, would have about a 1.7 percent chance of dying from suicide over the course of their lifespan, if those rates continued to hold constant. That translates into about 1 out of 60. This can better help contextualize what those rates actually mean, in more concrete terms. (And let's keep in mind this doesn't even count drug overdoses, many of which could be seen as a passive form of suicide, though it is not counted as such)