Stock market collapse claims lives in India, overwhelms help lines in the U.S.
In the light of recent financial market breakdown, the focus has been on the demise of powerful American financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers and AIG. The sense of instability that these collapses have generated forced stock markets down. But the people holding the crumbling stocks are often average men and women whose life investments are now in jeopardy.
The ripples of the market meltdown hysteria are crossing oceans and reaching as far as India. A sharebroker’s family there has committed mass suicide after sustaining heavy financial losses.
Turblence in the stock market reportedly drove a desperate sub-broker to enter into a suicide pact with his wife and snuff out the life of their toddler here at Saidabad on Thursday.The shocking part of the tragedy is the manner in which the sub-broker, K Upender (32) and his wife Swati (25), ended their lives. They opened the knob of the gas cylinder, allowed the gas to leak into the house and set themselves and their child Sai Akshay on fire. The trio were charred to death within minutes.
Upender was into stock brokering for the last several years and was married four years ago. ‘‘Preliminary investigation confirms that it is a clear case of suicide. The reason appears to be the losses he had suffered due to the crash in the stock market,’’ Malakpet division ACP Suhas Chaturvedi said. It is not immediately clear how much money Upender had invested.
Meanwhile in the U.S., help lines are overwhelmed by the number of callers seeking to give expression to their frustration over tumbling markets. Hospital administrators and therapists claim their services are in high demand in the wake of the financial market crisis. The numbers of people turning to mental health services for help is highest since 9/11 terror attacks, albeit the percentage of people seeking help after 9/11 attacks leveled off faster.
``It's shattering people's dreams of having a piece of the pie,'' said Victoria Tabios, 52, who works at a mental-health agency in Stockton, California, a city at the epicenter of the worst U.S. housing crisis since the Great Depression. ``There's a sense of hopelessness, irritability and anger.''
In New York, calls to the Hopeline network for people with depression or suicidal thoughts leaped 75 percent to 10,368 in the 11 months ending in July 2008. Chicago-based ComPsych Corp., the world's largest provider of employee assistance programs, logged 21 percent more calls seeking help for stress from financial pressures in July than they received a year earlier, and hospital admissions for psychiatric services are up 10 percent this year over last in claims submitted to UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer.
``The 9/11 spike was probably higher initially, but this has been more sustained,'' said ComPsych's Chief Executive Officer Richard Chaifetz in a telephone interview. He predicted the economic turmoil and psychological fallout will ``get worse and deeper'' in the coming year.
``We're reached a tipping point where anxiety about the economy is pervasive,'' said Dan Abrahamson, assistant executive director of the association's practice directorate. The worries ``are there all the time; you can't get them out of your mind.''
Hospital admissions for psychiatric and substance-abuse services have increased as much as 10 percent this year from last year, and outpatient mental-health treatments have risen as much as 5 percent in claims submitted to Minnetonka, Minnesota- based UnitedHealth.
Economic recessions typically lead to increased suicides and hospital admissions for psychiatric care, usually within one year of the start of the decline, says Harvey Brenner, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
``We've really not had such a combination of loss of jobs, income and housing in some time,'' said Brenner, who has studied the relationship between recessions and mental health for more than 30 years, most of it at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. ``We'd have to go back to the Great Depression'' to find a time when so many negative trends coincided.
Even children are said to be stressed over the financial crisis because their parents are always depressed at home and talk about losing their house and work.
Marcos Gallardo, director of behavioral health services for El Concilio, the Stockton agency that is helping Leon and her children, says their story is increasingly common.
``A lot of people are coming in with depression, afraid they're going to lose their homes'' and many children are suffering from anxiety and having trouble concentrating on schoolwork, he said.