Recent, high-profile financial sector suicides might not be that unusual

Scott Greer Contributor
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Eleven financial professionals have committed suicide so far this year — provoking considerable alarm that these suicides are part of a growing trend and might even foreshadow impending economic doom.

The latest downcast soul to depart from this earth was a Manhattan trader who threw himself in front of an early morning Long Island subway train.

But the data says that these deaths — which have included several building plunges — correspond with existing figures on the percentage of bankers and investors who kill themselves every year.

Financial workers have a particularly high rate of suicide, according to statistics given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, with the second largest amount of suicides among all professions for the 4 most recent years the CDC assessed suicides by occupation.

Fortune Magazine reports that financial professionals are 39 percent more likely to kill themselves than the workforce as a whole and the total, combined number of suicides for the years 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2007 (the most recent years the data was gathered) was 329. That would make a yearly average of around 82 suicides among financial specialists.

Another contributing factor for higher rates of self-murder among bankers would be a poor economy, as New York Magazine observed back in 2009. Suicide cycles mirror the economic cycle and the current downturn in the economy could account for a higher rate of self-inflicted death.

“We’ve been studying suicide cycles for over a century, and there is a nearly linear relationship between the national suicide rate and GDP,” Dr. M. Harvey Brenner, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told New York Magazine.

While the deaths that are capturing headlines might seem unusual and are certainly disturbing, they appear to correspond with previously collected data on the subject.

So if you’re a banking executive, please step away from the window and continue on with your normal, everyday life.

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