Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Rising depression. Suicide rates for the Mortgage crisis. No Help at all for middle class americans.
Towards our leaders & institutions; they are naive beyond belief. Although being used, abused & oh so confused by their so-called leaders, big media and this one-sided economic system; they keep on chuging along still wanting to believe in the american dream they are sold every minute, every day.
The real whiners are that 1% of happy few plutocrats and their 90% + of the whole shabang. They are the ones we are bailing out. They are the ones constantly lobbying & begging for more deregulation & tax cuts. They are the welfare corporations slaughtering US's middle class and making them feel guilty about it too…
There’s this big squeeze on the nation’s workers, wages have been flat, health and pension benefits are getting worse, at the same time corporate profits have gone up very, very nicely. Employee productivity has gone up 15, 20 percent, yet wages have been flat, plus companies are pressuring workers, you know, to work harder and harder.
And that’s part of a broader health crisis in the nation, where, since the year 2000, even though we’ve had pretty good economic times until the last few years under the Bush Administration, nine million more Americans are out of work than was the case in 2000. So now, almost 50 million Americans, nearly one-sixth of the workforce, is uninsured. And you think how crazy that is, in ways. You know, we’re the world’s wealthiest nation, yet one-in-six workers are out of work.
Wall Street is exerting much more pressure on corporations to maximize their share prices, as you know, which means maximize profits, which often translates into lowering costs and especially lowering payroll costs. So a lot of managers will say, you know, the area where they have most flexibility to reduce cost and increase profits is on payroll. So that’s why we’re seeing all these waves of downsizing and Suicide is becoming an increasingly popular response to debt.
For more than two decades, the couple had lived in their three-level house, where the elms outside blazed with yellow shades of fall and their four golden retrievers slept in the yard. The town had always been home, with a lazy river and rolling hills dotted by gnarled juniper trees.
Yet just before lunch on Oct. 23, the Donacas closed all their home's doors except the one to the garage and left their 1981 Cadillac Eldorado running. Toxic fumes filled the home. When sheriff's deputies arrived at about 1 p.m., they found the body of Raymond, 71, on the second floor along with three dead dogs. The body of Deanna, 69, was in an upstairs bedroom, close to another dead retriever.
"It is believed that the Donacas committed suicide after attempts to save their home following a foreclosure notice left them believing they had few options," the Crook County Sheriff's Office said in a report.
Their suicides were a tragic extreme, but the Donacas' case symbolizes how the housing crisis is wrenching the emotional lives of legions of homeowners. The escalating pace of foreclosures and rising fears among some homeowners about keeping up with their mortgages are creating a range of emotional problems, mental-health specialists say. Those include anxiety disorders, depression and addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and gambling. And, in a few cases, suicide.
Crisis hotlines are reporting a surge in calls from frantic homeowners. The American Psychological Association (APA) and other mental-health groups are publishing tips on how to handle the emotional stress triggered by the real estate meltdown. Psychologists say they're seeing more drinking, domestic violence and marital problems linked to mortgage concerns ? as well as children trying to cope with extreme anxiety when their families are forced to move.
"They're depressed, anxious. It's affected marriages, relationships," says Richard Chaifetz, CEO of ComPsych, a Chicago-based employee-assistance firm that is counseling homeowners over mortgage fears. "People tend to catastrophize, and that leads to depression. Suicide rates go up. We see an increase in drinking, outbursts at work, violence toward kids. Before, their houses were like ATMs," as they rose in value. "Now, they feel trapped.
Foreclosure filings surged 65% in April compared with the same month last year, according to a report Wednesday by RealtyTrac. One in every 519 households received a foreclosure filing last month, and the number of homes with foreclosure activity in April was the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing the report in January 2005.
Don Donaca, Raymond's brother, says it's hard to understand the suicide, but he thinks the pending foreclosure led to their deaths.
"He got so deep in debt he couldn't figure out what else to do," says Don, 74, a retired sawmill worker in Prineville. "I guess a guy would have to walk a few miles in his shoes to understand."
Financial concerns at the top.
Many other homeowners are at risk of less-severe, but still significant, psychological distress: One in seven homeowners worry that they won't be able to make their mortgage payments on time over the next six months, according to an April Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance poll, and more than one-quarter fear their home will decline in value during the next two years.
ComPsych says financial concerns are now the top issue the firm's counselors are hearing in calls from clients. Calls about financial worries have surged 20% over last year; those related to mortgage problems have doubled.
"It's escalated to the No. 1 issue because of the housing crisis," Chaifetz says.
Half of Americans identify housing costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, as significant sources of stress, particularly on the East and West coasts, a 2007 survey by the APA says. Sixty-one percent in the West, and 55% in the East (compared with 47% in the Midwest and 43% in the South) reported housing costs as a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
"The problem affects the whole spectrum, not just people losing their homes," says LeslieBeth Wish, a psychologist and social worker in Sarasota, Fla. "The stress exacerbates what is already there. It brings to the surface problems that were often already there, like marital problems. There is so much blaming people for the situations they're in, and that adds to it."
One of Wish's patients was semiretired when she bought a home in 2005 in southwest Florida as an investment that she hoped to "flip," turning a profit. The woman now owes more than the house is worth and can't sell it.
Wish says her client has developed anxiety, dwelling on her financial situation from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep. Other clients, Wish says, are reporting physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach pains stemming from anxiety over their mortgage situation.
ComPsych's counselors are hearing similar stories of the mental-health toll caused by the housing slump. At the request of USA TODAY, ComPsych's spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson queried counselors to come up with examples of the types of employees they're helping. One couple were going through a divorce, and the wife told ComPsych counselors that financial stress was the final trigger. They had maxed out their credit cards and were living off credit in hopes that they could keep their house. Another woman called because she suspected her husband was gambling again, apparently hoping to win big so they could repair their financial mess. She was afraid they were going to have to move in with her parents, ComPsych says.
For Gary Sweredoski of Myrtle Beach, S.C., the threat of losing his home to foreclosure has taken both a physical and an emotional toll. In 2007, Sweredoski, who had no health insurance, underwent triple bypass surgery and wound up with more than $300,000 in medical bills. Then Sweredoski, 60, a real estate broker, saw his business suffer as the housing market crashed.
Today, he and his wife, Irene, struggle to make the mortgage payment on the dream home they built in Myrtle Beach and are trying to stave off foreclosure. Like many other homeowners struggling with the financial consequences of the housing slump, Gary says the emotional pain can be severe.
Standing on his deck overlooking a lake where ducks swim and bobbing pontoon boats drift by, he says such circumstances "shatter your pride and become very humiliating, even though the circumstances are not of our making.
"The situation keeps you up at night, preventing you from getting the rest you need. A lot of the depression that I feel, I do in private," he says.
"It angers you. It frustrates you. It has a large bearing on your emotional state. When the thought of losing a home looms, you lose more than a building. You lose what you worked for so many years, all of the equity that you have accumulated over the years. It's humbling. It affects us deeply."
Rising depression, suicide rates
Historically, research shows, rates of depression and suicide tend to climb during times of economic tumult.