Suicide or Twinkies?

Does the suicide rate really increase during an economic crisis like the one we’re experiencing?  Evidently not, as reported in Live Science:

Loren Coleman, an expert on suicides and author of “The Copycat Effect,” notes that suicides actually decrease during times of social and economic stress: “Historical studies conducted by sociologist Steven Stack and others have discovered a noticeable dip in suicides and related violent events when there is society-wide anguish, for example, in times of massive immediate grieving in periods of wars and economic depressions.”

But, what does increase is consumption of comfort foods.

In times of stress, people tend to seek comfort — and comfort foods. People who are worried about their retirement and paying the bills are even more likely to want hamburgers and a night of relaxing on the couch instead of carrot sticks and hitting the treadmill. Add to that the disparity between cheap fast food and expensive healthier food, and the troubled economy will hit not only the wallets but the waistlines of many Americans.

Increased stress and more hamburgers – not a good combination.  But never fear, because when a crisis occurs we can always rely on magical thinking to save us, as discussed in Psychology Today and elaborated on in Mind Hacks

Researchers have also found that levels of superstition and magical thinking increase during times of stress and economic uncertainty. People turn more to astrology and psychics, looking for comfort and reassurance that everything will be okay. Superstitions also give many people the illusion of control over some part of their lives. For people in the grip of magical thinking (which is practically all of us at one time or another), lucky numbers or rituals help us to believe that we are overcoming (or at least gaining an edge over) the seemingly randomness of an uncertain world.


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