Death and Joblessness
Suicide Dogs the Long-Term Unemployed. What Can Be Done to Help Them?
By Annie Lowrey
He hit “publish” on the last Wednesday in July, in the middle of a long afternoon. “I also have become homeless and am on the verge of suicide. I slept out in the wood last night and didn’t gett very much sleep. I hate to bring you people down with my problems but I thought you would like to know this. I don’t know what else to say except I’m very sorry it turned out like this but I can take the strain of living like this very much longer.” (All posts are reproduced as published.)
The post went up as part of a conversation about homelessness on Unemployed-Friends, a popular online forum for the unemployed to connect with one another. Most were discussing how to live in homeless shelters after eviction or foreclosure. But his post went further. “This is killing me physically and emotoinally. I am at the end of my rope and getting to the point of letting go. I have tried everything I know to get help. DHS won’t help’ Salvation Army won’t help. 211 won’t help. I have no idea as to where to go from here. If you don’t hear from me by tomorrow I probably will be dead.”
Thousands of users visit the web site daily, offering one another everything from advice about applying for unemployment insurance benefits to emotional support. It is one of dozens of such sites helping the nation’s 14.6 million unemployed — particularly the long-term unemployed, the 6.6 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. “I am very tempted to walk in front of an oncoming semi right now. Sorry to go on ranting but I am getting to the point where I feel I have no choice. For those of you that want to know I am currently in Grand Rapids. I appreciate your words of encouragement but right now it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep me going.”
The post ended, “I will try to tough out another night. Goodbye for now.”