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Increasing the Minimum Wage Decreases Suicides

A 25 year study found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage saves thousands of lives

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 08, 2020

We all know that raising the minimum wage helps low-income families make ends meet, but a new study shows that the raises are literally saving people’s lives.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health looked at suicide rates in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia from 1990 through 2015. They found that in years when a state raised the minimum wage by $1, suicides among working-age people (18-64), with a high school education or less fell by 3.5 to 6%. This means that just between 2009 and 2015 a $1 increase in the minimum wage would have prevented 14,000 suicides.

Since the study began in 1990 suicides in the United States have increased by more than 30%. In 2017 20% of all deaths among 18-24-year-olds were attributed to suicide. While other factors often lead to suicide, like mental health issues, economic insecurity is a leading cause of depression, which can be a major indicator for someone becoming suicidal.

The good news is that with a new year here, 20 states and 26 cities and counties have raised their minimum wages. Another four states and 23 cities and counties will see increases later in 2020. Arizona, California, Connecticut (on Sept. 1), Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Washington, and the District of Columbia, have increased their minimum wages by $1 or more. Other states like New York, saw a scheduled increase occur with the beginning of the new year, as their minimum wage is slated to increase to a living wage over the next few years.

If you’re thinking about suicide, please click here or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S.! To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.

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