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The Economics of Suicide, Revisited

Dave E. Marcotte
Southern Economic Journal
Vol. 69, No. 3 (Jan., 2003), pp. 628-643
DOI: 10.2307/1061698
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1061698
Page Count: 16
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The Economics of Suicide, Revisited
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Abstract

Only a small fraction of suicide attempts are fatal. Nonfatal attempts might elicit resources and care from others, enhancing economic prospects for those who survive. I expand the standard utility-maximizing model of suicide to include a nontrivial probability of survival and the possibility that the utility function may be affected by the suicide attempt. This expanded model predicts that suicide attempts are more likely when future income may be positively affected by the attempt, conditional on survival. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey show that ex post, individuals who made a suicide attempt had higher incomes than peers who seriously considered suicide but who never made a suicide attempt. Moreover, those who reported making the most serious attempts experienced the largest subsequent effects on income.

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