Way back in the last decade we published this piece:

Those pesky root causes keep popping up

It showed that there absolutely is a link between raising the minimum wage and lowering the suicide rate back in June of last year- by 3.6-5.5%. The paper can be found here (behind a paywall, but the summary at least):

https://www.nber.org/papers/w25787

Which is freaking huge. But, that was just one study right? Well, yesterday a study came across our desk that had such similar results that I originally thought (and told Lara even!) that we’d already done a piece on it. I was wrong. Another study, completely independent of the first, came up with almost exactly the same results. Weird, right?

https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2020/01/03/jech-2019-212981

Results The effect of a US$1 increase in the minimum wage ranged from a 3.4% decrease (95% CI 0.4 to 6.4) to a 5.9% decrease (95% CI 1.4 to 10.2) in the suicide rate among adults aged 18–64 years with a high school education or less. We detected significant effect modification by unemployment rate, with the largest effects of minimum wage on reducing suicides observed at higher unemployment levels.

Raising the minimum wage reduces deaths of despair. Which should be shocking to exactly nobody.  In the last year our community has lost two of our own, this stuff is personal. When we invariably get the comments like “Yeah, sure, root causes are important and all, but whatabout……. (insert random legislation that would have no impact on the actual number of deaths, whether they be suicide or homicide)” it really makes us want to pull one of these:

Frustrated Head GIF by swerk

 

We are actually liberals here at the Liberal Gun Club. We give a shit about making a difference. We also have been studying public policy for the last decade and providing information about programs that work. Root Cause isn’t a joke to us- without it we’re wasting taxpayer dollars, allowing the entire conversation to degrade into bumper sticker solutions for complex problems,  buying into the culture wars, and utterly failing to make any damned difference. We can do better. We deserve better.

The National Suicide Prevention hotline is available 24 hours a day. Use it if you need it.

1-800-273-8255

There are also some great tools over at Walk the Talk America where you can get a free (and anonymous) mental health screening.

Income inequality impacts both suicide rates and homicide rates. A frequent measure of income inequality is the GINI index, as we’ve discussed previously here and here, we can make more of a difference than any proposed gun legislation on reducing both homicides and suicides by addressing one of the root causes of both- income inequality leading to despair.

While we’re trying to help each other with the symptoms to reduce deaths, let’s also have a real conversation about the “why” behind the “what.“