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New(spaper) Evidence of a Reduction in Suicide Mentions during the 19th‐century US Gold Rush

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  • Kronenberg, Christoph

Abstract

I analyze the relationship between state‐level economic shocks and suicides using historical US gold discoveries (1840‐1860) as a large unexpected economic shock. Gold discoveries were an unexpected and large economic shock of up to 3.5% of GDP. They provide as good as random variation to the local economy, that I use to estimate the effect of economic changes on suicides. Comprehensive mortality data by state and year does not exist for the US for 1840 to 1860. I thus make use of web scraped data from a newspaper archive and use suicide mentions per 100,000 pages as a proxy for suicides. Results show that overall gold discoveries are linked with a clear reduction in newspaper suicide mentions. The results indicate that an economic shock changes the suicide rate by one for every $136,659 to $251,145. This is estimate implies a higher cost‐effectiveness than previous research but is still seven to fourteen times the size of modern, cost‐effective suicide prevention method.

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  • Kronenberg, Christoph, 2020. "New(spaper) Evidence of a Reduction in Suicide Mentions during the 19th‐century US Gold Rush," CINCH Working Paper Series (since 2020) 73382, Duisburg-Essen University Library, DuEPublico.
  • Handle: RePEc:ajt:wcinch:73382
    DOI: 10.17185/duepublico/73382
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    Keywords

    Gold Rush; Economic Shock; Suicide; Newspaper;
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