Coping With Economic Stress: Men Vs Women

Women Vs. Men: Handling Economic Stress
Kiri Blakeley, 01.12.09, 5:30 PM ET


Last week’s suicide of Chicago real estate auctions mogul Steven Good is the latest instance of what could be termed “econocide”–suicide due to the poor economy. While Good, who shot himself, did not leave a note indicating his motivation, his death comes a month after he made comments about the collapse of the real estate industry at a business conference.

Good’s suicide follows that of Kirk Stephenson, a financier who jumped in front of a train in England after his private equity firm suffered losses; French financier Rene-Thierry Magnon de la Villehuchet, who slit his wrists after losing $1 billion in the Bernard Madoff scheme; and German billionaire Adolf Merckle, who threw himself in front of a train after massive investment losses.

These tragic figures had something in common besides economic hard times: They were all men.

In 2005, the latest statistics offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25,907 men killed themselves, versus 6,730 women. A big part of this discrepancy is that men use much more successful methods of suicide. Each of the four moguls who took their lives did so in a decisive fashion. “Men take far more permanent measures,” says Manhattan psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, who counsels many Wall Streeters and their families. “Women might make gestures that are not as strong, that are more a cry for help or attention.”

Last week’s suicide of Chicago real estate auctions mogul Steven Good is the latest instance of what could be termed “econocide”–suicide due to the poor economy. 

Typical remarks are “I can’t go on,” “Nothing matters anymore” or even “I’m thinking of ending it all.” Says Dr. Leslie Seppinni, a Beverly Hills, Calif., clinical psychologist: “They might make a sudden off-handed comment such as ‘If I don’t see you in the new year…’ and then say they were kidding.”

Getting One’s Affairs in Order

Making a will or giving away valued possessions. Says Dr. Leslie Seppinni: “They might call their lawyer or accountant to make sure everything is in order.”

Drugs and Alcohol

Men are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol during times of stress than women, although women are quite capable of abusing both when under duress or depressed.

Mood and Behavior Changes

Men are more likely to turn to sex or use prostitutes during times of extreme stress. But women will also have affairs. Behavior might also change: disappearing for periods of time with no good explanation or withdrawing from friends and family.

Passive Suicide

Individuals suffering illnesses that are controlled by prescription drugs–such as hypertension or diabetes–may stop taking their medications or may refuse to go to the doctor.

Losing Weight

Drastic weight loss or changes in appetite, coupled with the individual not appearing healthy, are other signs.

Call for Help

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is connected to the U.S. Department of Health and can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

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