Economic Struggles Turn Violent

When we sit down with our coffee and paper in the morning, we are getting used to the front-page news focusing on the economic crisis at hand: the stock market tumbles again; another major corporation announced it was letting go hundreds of employees; the foreclosure rate is at its highest in years.

It seems as though the economy’s woes are everywhere, yet for the most part we have been able to find ways to escape from the troubling times. Despite the pinch in all of our pocketbooks, we are able to remember that the economy swings back and forth, bringing the bad with the good.

Sadly, not everyone has managed to find a break from the financial calamity, especially those who have been hit harder than most. Now the headlines about the disaster the economy is currently in are being replaced with stories about the violence that is ensuing.

July 23:Carlene Balderrama, a 53-year-old mother from Taunton, MA, faxed her mortgage company a suicide note before taking her life. The day the Balderrama’s home was suppose to be auctioned off, PHH Mortgage Corp. received a fax stating, “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead.”

According to police, the company notified the police about half an hour before the home was to be auctioned. When officers reached the woman’s home, they found that Balderrama had already fatally shot herself with her husband’s high-powered rifle; a suicide note and insurance policy were lying on the table next to her.

October 1: A 90-year-old woman became a symbol of the home mortgage crisis on October 1, when she shot herself while police officers were trying to evict her from her home. The widow had been living in her home for 38 years before Fannie Mae foreclosed on her home in Akron, Ohio.

Polk was hospitalized after she shot herself twice in the upper body during her eviction. After the incident, Fannie Mae told CNN that it will halt any action taken against Polk and sign the property outright to her.

October 6: At the beginning of October, police found that an unemployed man, living in a suburb of Los Angeles, killed his family and then himself over the weekend. The man, Karthik Rajaram, had lost his job a couple of months ago. Despite a MBA in finance and a resume full from the work he had done at major accounting firms, Rajaram had been out of work for a while.

According to CNN, the police found three letters in the house: one to law enforcement stating that he had killed himself and five other members of his family; a second one appearing to be Rajarama’s will; and the third letter addressed to friends and relatives. In the letter addressed to friends, Rajarama detailed out all the transactions that lead to his financial downward spiral. After several months of not being able to dig himself out of his debt, the man reasoned that his only option was to take the lives of his family and himself.

October 6:While sheriff deputies stood across the street from Pamela Ross’s home in Sevierville, preparing to evict her, the 57-year-old woman fatally shot herself in the chest. According to police, the deputies were outside when they heard a gunshot. Upon entering the house, they found Ross suffering from a gunshot wound with a handgun by her side.

The family’s attorney, Herb Moncier, told the press that Ross and her husband had been fighting off the foreclosure of their home. Court records show that the judge had just granted the couple 10 more days to appeal the case. Moncier claims that the deputies should not have even been at the house.

The Sheriff’s Captain said that the deputies were waiting for the results from the hearing across the street. Ross came out to speak with them, but his men did not enter the house until after they heard a gunshot.

October 14: Wanda Dunn, a resident of Pasadena, CA, couldn’t stand the idea of losing the home that once belonged to her grandparents to foreclosure. According to the Press-Telegram, the 53-year-old woman packed up her belongings and wrote out instructions on what to do with them. Later that evening, Dunn dropped the boxes off on her neighbors’ doorsteps.

After making the deliveries, Dunn went back to the house. She set the house on fire and then shot herself. Friends and neighbors that spoke with the press said that the foreclosure on her home and the financial turmoil she had been dealing with sent her over the edge.

Authorities Urging People to Get Help

These recent events have sparked some concern among officials that the struggles of the economy could be reaching farther into people’s lives than expected, and authorities are beginning to recommend that people seek help if they are struggling with overwhelming financial burdens.

After the Los Angeles murder-suicide, police and mental-health officials publicly asked people to get help from a counselor for themselves or another loved one if they think the financial crisis has began to mount, reported CNN. Police told the press they are afraid there is a potential for another copycat event.

According to CNN, there are many places across the nation where mental-health hotlines are busy and counseling service appointments are completely booked. Rev. Canon Ann Malonee told CNN in an interview that a lot of people he talks to says this financial fiasco is the “most reminiscent of 9/11″ that has happened to New York since. Malonee is the vicar at Trinity Church, which sits in the financial district of New York City.

People who once had substantial footing are now standing on rocky ground. Unable to get their financial situation under control and nowhere else to turn, people have begun to call in to suicide-prevention hot lines, reported CNN. The Samaritans of New York reported that they have had a 16 percent increase in calls this year, with a lot more about money-related issues; while the Switchboard of Miami has recorded more than 500 calls related to foreclosure in 2008.

Although authorities are not sure yet if there is a statistical link between suicides and the struggling economy, history has shown us that suicides have increased during times of financial suffering. CNN reported that many are calling this recession the worst since the Great Depression.

If you are struggling financially, consider getting help from a bankruptcy lawyer. An attorney can help you figure out how to work through your financial problems. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is also a good idea to seek help from a counselor.