Study: Minimum wage increase would save thousands of lives

National News

A suicide prevention sign is posted at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Construction of a suicide prevention net designed to catch and cradle people who jump at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge that was set to be completed in 2021 is now expected to be built by 2023. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal via AP, File)

(NEWS10) — A new study shows that increasing the minimum wage by $1 would prevent thousands of suicides every year, and that a $2 minimum wage increase would save over 50,000 people from taking their own lives within a 15-year period.

Almost 2% of unemployed adults attempted suicide in 2017, compared to 0.4% working full-time jobs and 0.7% of part-timers. Researchers from Emory University suggest that wage hikes lower the suicide rates even more when unemployment is high or during an economic downtown.

Researchers focused on less-educated adults who more often earn the minimum wage because they are also at a higher risk for depression and suicidal tendencies. The study did not suggest a connection between a raised minimum wage and suicide rates of college graduates.

Employers demand employees who are engaged, productive, and loyal. Implementing policies and practices that support employee mental well-being through financial growth meets their demands while also taking care of their workers.

The loudest voices against minimum wage hikes often come from a business community prioritizing the financial health of a bottom line over the physical and mental health of an individual. The minimum federal minimum wage is $7.25.

About 20% of the workforce experiences a mental health issue every year, and more than 10 million adults have unmet mental health treatment needs, a number that’s remained steady since 2011.

More Americans commit suicide now than at any other time in the last hundred years, with the most dramatic increase in rural communities. There, lack of employment in farming and manufacturing industries caused steep economic declines for the past 25 years.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. among ages 10 to 24, a massive demographic with only limited exposure to the workplace. Recent research points to increased suicides among young people of color—particularly African American boys—with the suicide rate among young black people rising the fastest among racial groups.

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