Are These Stories Linked? You Betcha

 The economic problems facing the world are well documented; we are in an extended period of economic trouble and uncertainty. Dealing with these issues has put a tremendous strain on people all over the world.

The story posted above is about Italy; the one posted below is about a disturbing trend in Minnesota:

The coincidences are not readily apparent, however. Suicide is, many times, the result of mental illness. The first article details how the business downturn in Italy has driven many to desperation and suicide. The second article gives anecdotal evidence that there is an uptick in the number of people committing suicide by either jumping in front of a moving vehicle or by lying on a road.

I'm curious if the Minnesota suicides are driven by economic reasons. Stress and loss are factors that can drive suicides; my thinking is that there is some universality in these two stories and that they are driven by economic hard times and a vanishing safety net.

You see, destroying the safety net is not really about material things. It is really about dignity and hope. Granting people meager benefits--and not stigmatizing them and making them the subject of ridicule in our society--is one way to ease the stress of hard times and give people a reason to get on their feet again. I don't think it is natural to accept a handout and just stay there. It might be that way for some, but not for all. Our society isn't built that way. And if we were extending a little help and assistance to people who need it, maybe they wouldn't feel the absence of hope and possibility.