Entries in Recession (6)


Rural States See Spike in Suicides Following Medicaid Cuts

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Suicide is on the rise in rural America -- nowhere so much as in Western Mountain states like Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico.  Mental health professionals attribute it in part to cutbacks in Medicaid funding, the recession and the culture of the rural West.

In Idaho, somebody kills him or herself every 35 hours, according to a 2009 report to Idaho's governor by the state's Council on Suicide Prevention. Their report calls suicide "a major public health issue" having a "devastating effect" on Idaho's families, churches, businesses and even schools: 65 students aged 10 and 18 killed themselves in a recent five-year period.

Last week, a county sheriff in Bonneville told the Idaho Falls Post Register that his department was getting more suicide calls than in 2010 -- a year in which 290 Idahoans took their own lives.

Historically, the suicide rate in rural states has been higher than in urban ones.  According to the most recent national data available, Alaska has the highest rate, at 24.6 suicides per 100,000 people.  Next comes Wyoming (23.3), followed by New Mexico (21.1), Montana (21.0) and Nevada (20.2).  Idaho ranks sixth, at 16.5.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Idahoans aged 15-34. Only accidents rank higher.

Kathie Garrett, co-chairman of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, says the problem has gotten only worse since the recession.

"The poor economy and unemployment -- those put a lot of stress on people's lives," she explains.

To save money, people skip doctor visits and cut back on taking prescribed medications.  Cuts in Medicaid have also reduced the services available to the mentally ill.

"I personally know people who lost Medicaid who've attempted suicide," says Garrett.

Kim Kane, executive director of Idaho's Suicide Prevention Action Network in Idaho says other factors explain the high rate of suicide in Western Mountain states. One is the greater prevalence of guns: In 2010, 63 percent of Idaho suicides involved a firearm, compared with the national average of 50 percent.

She and Garrett also say the West's pride in rugged individualism can prevent people from seeking help.  Their feeling, says Kane, is that they ought to be able to pull themselves up by their mental bootstraps.  Idaho is the only state not to have a suicide-prevention hotline.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Research Links Recession to Cases of Child Abuse

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Children, and particularly infants, are the most vulnerable and often end up at the receiving end of adult frustration and impatience. And when the environment in which they live is pushed to the limit, incidences of child abuse often rise. Now, a new study is linking years of recession to child abuse.
New research, conducted between 2007 through 2009, the years in which America saw its economy critically worsen, shows an increase in abusive head trauma -- more commonly called shaken baby syndrome. Researchers decided to study brain-injuring abuse after pediatricians anecdotally noticed the uptick.
The children, mostly from lower-income families and chosen because they face greater risks of abuse, involved 74 counties spanning four states. Though this particular form of abuse is uncommon, the number of cases in the areas studied increased sharply -- rising from about nine cases per 100,000 children in pre-recession years to almost 15 per 100,000 during the recession, up 65 percent.
This research doesn't prove that the recession caused the abuse -- many of the families studied were already financially stressed. But with census data showing a record 46.2 million Americans now classified as "poor," further study is clearly warranted.

This study's findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hunger at Home: Since Recession 20 Million More Americans on Food Stamps

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The McKimmons girls in Arkansas pray before each dinner, grateful for every meal. Michelle Sutton near Atlanta sacrifices her own food for her boys. And 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton in Philadelphia has a nearly empty refrigerator.

In every corner of the country, a portrait of hidden hunger has now emerged. The recession has pushed 2.4 million more children into poverty. Seventeen million children are "food insecure," meaning their parents often don't know where the next meal will come from.

Simply put, one in six Americans don't have enough food.

Dawn and Michael McKimmons live near Fort Smith, Ark., and have moved into a trailer to save money. Dawn works at a hotel, while Michael delivers pizzas. They have taken whatever jobs they could find, but it is still not enough to feed the family.

They make do with help from their local food bank and try to shield their three little girls from the daily struggle.

"I hear my kids ask me, 'Mommy what's for dinner?' And I sit there at times, I sit there and kind of just pace back and forth thinking to myself, 'Oh my gosh, what is for dinner,'" said Dawn.

Outside Atlanta, the Suttons slipped from the middle class when Bob Sutton's concrete company went under. Michelle Sutton said she used to be a typical soccer mom, but not anymore. She told ABC News that her 11-year-old son hugged her and said, "Wow, you feel skinny."

Dr. Mariana Chilton, founder of Witnesses to Hunger, says the recession has hit the middle class hard.

"People who have been middle class who are now struggling to put food on the table are feeling an enormous amount of stress," she said. "They are starting to experience the pain of poverty, of what it's like to be poor."

In Philadelphia, 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton knows it's the end of the month, when the food stamps have long run out.

His mother is trying to finish her degree so she can find work.

When asked what is toughest for him, Sutton said, "When I eat, and my mom doesn't. She sacrifices."

Before the recession, 26 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, that number has grown to more than 46 million, or one in seven Americans.

Sutton says he wants to be a senator when he grows up and has even written to Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., to ask for help.

Without a car, Sutton and his mother are forced to walk to Rite Aid to buy food. Rite Aid is the closest store, but it is often too expensive and there is no supermarket nearby. Walmart is their best alternative.

St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia is ground zero for hunger. The emergency room might see 250 children a day, and up to half are hungry.

"They don't have the growth that they should," said. Dr. Chris Haines, ER director at St. Christopher's Hospital. "What disturbs me is that your brain grows much in your childhood, and nutrition is what's important to your brain's growth."

Tom Lesher, who brought his grandson to the hospital, has been out of a job for 18 months.

"Things are going to get tough," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't find a job."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mr. Mom: Recession Shifting Men's Roles

Stay-at-home dad Wayne Moyer, shown with son Matt, says his bike is his "manly escape." (Courtesy of Wayne Moyer)(LAS VEGAS) -- Wayne Moyer, a 39-year-old father of three, has a new appreciation for stay-at-home parents. After losing his job in 2009, Moyer entered full-time fatherhood -- a change that has challenged his stamina and his ego.

"The stress of work is far less intrusive than being a stay-at-home dad," said Moyer, who lives in Womelsdorf, Pa. "But I think the hardest part for most of us men is to give up the role of being the one who earns the most money to our wives. It just feels completely unnatural."

Like many men of his generation, Moyer was raised almost exclusively by his mom. But the dismal economy is forcing families to reorganize resources and rethink roles. And men like Moyer -- once breadwinners -- are reinventing themselves as caregivers.

"They're not providing money, but they're providing this labor that wives have been doing for years," said Kristen Myers, an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

Myers and doctoral student Ilana Demantas have been studying the recession's impact on the so-called "breadwinning ideology." And what the uncovered after interviews with 20 recently unemployed men whose domestic roles have been turned upside-down was an unprecedented shift in attitudes about gender.

"They take care of the kids; they go shopping; they clean. These men have really embraced this new realm that they wouldn't have chosen," said Myers, who with Dementas presented the study findings at the American Sociological Associations annual meeting in Las Vegas. "They hope it's temporary and they can go back to work. But in meantime, they're changing their perspective."

But the transition has been far from seamless. Many of the men interviewed for the study initially felt like the loss in income translated to a loss in masculinity.

"Not only have they lost their jobs, they've also lost an important aspect of how to be men," said Myers, adding that many of the men interviewed felt defeated and depressed. "But they're making the most of it and learning new things. It's an opportunity to live richer, although poorer lives."

Moyer admits that being Mr. Mom has challenged his masculinity. So he takes every opportunity to get out on his Victory Vision tour bike -- a motorcycle he won in a raffle six weeks ago.

"It's my manly escape," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Reports Biggest Birth Rate Drop in 30 Years

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- There has been a four percent drop in births in the U.S. from 2007 to 2009 -- the largest two-year decline in 30 years, according to a report released Thursday from the Center for Disease and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

"Certainly the economy and war have been two of the biggest influences on birth rate historically," said Paul Sutton, statistician and lead author of the report.

The number of births in the United States reached an all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007. The subsequent decline, which shows no sign of leveling off, mirrors the country's ongoing economic crisis -- an observation consistent with other recessions.

"The two-year decline was notable, but not truly of historic proportions when compared with the large, extended fertility declines in the early 20th century and in the 1960s and early 1970s," the authors wrote.

After the Great Depression of the 1930s, the biggest drop in birth rate followed the post World War Two baby boom -- the so-called baby bust of the'60s and '70s.

The CDC report released Thursday breaks down birth data by maternal age, race and geographical location. And not surprisingly, the biggest drop occurred in states hit hardest by the recession, including Florida, Arizona and California.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Children's Health Negatively Impacted by Recession, Study Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- More than 15 million children are living in poverty, according to a new report released Monday by the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

According to the report, which focuses on the effects of the recession on children's well-being, short-term periods of poverty can negatively affect the long-term health of a child.  Additionally, poor nutrition continues to contribute to the growing problem of childhood obesity, given the growing number of food insecure households in the U.S.

Pediatric hospitals have also reported increased cases of physical abuse.  Meanwhile, researchers are concerned that maltreatment of children "will spike as the recession comes to an end."

Authors of the study say they are hoping that federal, state and city governments establish adequate access to "safety net" programs to help combat the negative effect of the recession.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is expected to discuss the report in a congressional briefing Wednesday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio