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Elkhart Coroner Blames High Suicide Rate On Recession

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As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

In Elkhart, Ind., coroner John White has linked the rising suicide rate to the continuing economic recession, reports MSNBC's JoNel Aleccia. As many as 24 people have killed themselves this year in the Northern Indiana region, and over a quarter of them can be directly tied to recent job loss or financial hardship. Elkhart has suffered more than any other county with more than 25,000 residents, according to a stress map from the Associated Press released in May.

One woman shot herself in the head the day after her car had been repossessed, her home already on the brink of foreclosure. "This was a vivacious, very strong woman, and she was taken to her knees because of money," said her daughter.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the recession has caused higher suicide rates nationwide, but a data lag prevents full analysis -- the most recent national data only go up to 2006.

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A little over a year ago in Tavares, Fla., four-day-old Chase Jucha had to undergo open-heart surgery, reports the Orlando Sentinel. His parents, Brian and Jessica, were uninsured, and got emergency Medicaid to help save his life. Then, as Chase was recovering -- exactly a year after his surgery -- Brian had a headache that turned out to be a tumor twice the size of a golf ball, and he had to undergo brain surgery. And then Jessica lost her job at a childcare center in September.

The Juchas have been receiving help from their church, the First Baptist Church of Tavares, whose 200 parishioners have already donated more than $1,800 to help the family, which also has another three-year-old son, Bradley. Brian, a landscaper, is also out of work. "Our desire was to be able to make sure their day-to-day and week-by-week needs were going to be met," said Rev. Tom Keisler. "They're a wonderful couple. This really hit everybody hard."

Donations can be made by contacting the church.

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A homeless shelter in Fayetteville, Ark., has seen a record number of homeless veterans, reports 40/29 TV. There's been "a huge increase, and we didn't think it could get any higher," said Jon Woodward, executive director of the Seven Hills Homeless Center. The center reports that about half of its patrons are veterans, caught in the midst of high unemployment and unable to transfer their battlefield experience into civilian employment and a stable home. "The challenge is just like anybody looking for jobs," said Terry Jaggers, of the Department of Workforce Services in Fayetteville. "There's just not that many jobs available."

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Peter Whoriskey reports for the Washington Post about a region of North Carolina that has had more jobs outsourced to other countries than just about anywhere else in the nation. Local workers are struggling to switch careers in a job market already strained by high unemployment and the lingering recession.

Many laid-off employees cannot enroll in a federal program designed to re-educate workers for new kinds of jobs, because their unemployment checks aren't enough to support them long enough to earn a degree or training certification. "The people in the think tanks keep saying we are going to become -- what's the term? -- an 'information and services' economy," said Allan Mackie, manager of the local North Carolina Employment Security Commission office. "That doesn't seem to be working out too good."

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In Michigan, the high number of foreclosed houses threatens to throw off totals for the 2010 census, which could rob the state of a congressional seat, reports Catherine Jun of the Detroit News. Massive unemployment across the state has caused many to move away, and even more to lose their homes.


HuffPost readers: Seen a compelling local story? Have a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email jmhattem@gmail.com.