The Sept. 8 article on suicide rates across the U.S. presented a false dichotomy of urban versus rural areas. The suicide rate in the United States over the past 100 years has mirrored the unemployment rate.
As unemployment increases, an increase in suicide follows. The rates of suicide have peaked following contractions in the economy. After the Great Depression the rate was around 25%; the early 1980s rate was above 10% following the hyper-inflation of the 1970s and in 2009 the suicide rate reached 10%.
The article is correct regarding the breakdown of social bonds and the lethality of access to guns when it comes to self-annihilation. However, the idea that individuals living in poverty in the United States — mostly people of color — are protected from suicide because of communal resources such as city parks, neighborhood barbershops and community churches is a myth.
The poor or near poor of this country — now roughly 50% of the people — never bought what is sold as the American Dream: if you work hard, play by the rules and go to college, then you can get a good job, settle down with a partner and have children in order to someday retire.
This is not true for most of our society. The disparity between the presentation of our social values — democracy, meritocracy and social mobility —and reality is the culprit of increasing suicide rates.
People need meaningful, secure employment with strong benefits and labor unions. Not the precarity of working as a contracted employee for 40 plus hours a week between multiple jobs and then monetizing their homes via Airbnb and their cars via Uber just to make ends meet.
The latter is self-destructive.