Family killings linked to financial woes; 2009 the year of sad?


In Los Angeles, Calif., a man kills the six members of his family because he and his wife lost their jobs at Kaiser Permanente's West Los Angeles Medical Center. In Columbus, Ohio, a man who had just lost his job was found in an apparent murder-suicide with his wife and their two children, ages eight and five. Here in Portland, Ore., a few blocks away from my home, a woman was killed and her brother was shot by their 93-year-old father; they were caring for him at home because her 12-year-old son is autistic and the family couldn't afford to pay for the care of her rapidly-deteriorating father and her son.

Are these tragic stories an indication that America is entering into another "Recession Depression"; a time when, as during the Great Depression, suicide rates rise sharply? During that period, suicide went from 14 in 10,000 people to 17 in 10,000 people, annually. I wonder every day when I think about the extreme stress of such huge job losses as we have collectively experienced these past few months: how long until we start, collectively, cracking?

If these past few awful headlines are any indication, not so very long. The news is sure to stay desperate and gory unless the job losses dry up. And that doesn't look really hopeful: at least, not today.