Scarcity Mindset and Suicide

Author: Justine Carwardine

Suicide is a horrible way of dying, but the people committing it are making in their minds an incredible rational decision. Now I am not saying they are making the right decision just that they think they are. Now why would someone want to take away what was most precious to them?

It is simple and is ubiquitous in our modern society. It is something that people cheer about, and you are marveled at if you can handle a lot of it. CEOs are looked up to because it is thought they feel a lot of this, but they still handle it. Modern society is built around people taking on a lot of this, and the only way to get ahead is to take on more of it. I am of course talking about stress.

Stress in small doses is a good thing and can actually be beneficial to our society, but in the large doses that we have today it is quite dangerous. So what do I mean by that? I mean that when stress builds up in our bodies it can actually lead to something entirely invisible but also very hard to get out of once you have it. It is a mindset that every person who has ever lived through poverty will know well even if they can’t actually put the words to the actual problem.

This mindset is called the mindset of scarcity, and it is a scientifically proven fact. You have probably never heard of it but let me tell you it is a devastating mindset to be in and is a factor in a large number of suicides. This mindset drops a person’s IQ by as much as 13 points. It also means that the person has less mental capacity to use and develops a tunnel vision to try and get through the massive stress being put on the system. Now how did scientists figure this out?

Well It was actually quite simple really. The scientists did IQ tests on a bunch of Indian farmers, but they did them during two times of the year. Once was during the harvest season when the farmers had enough to live on and could pay their bills. The other time was during the growing season when the stress was higher, and the farmers weren’t making as much money. What they found was that when things were good the farmers actually did better on the IQ test, but when the stress was higher then the farmers did worse. Now you might be wondering what the correlation is between Indian Farmers and suicidal people is?

The correlation is that a person thinking of committing suicide is under a whole heap of stress. They have developed that scarcity mindset. They might be having financial troubles, workplaces issues or familial problems. This has lead them to think there is no way out of their situation and the scarcity mindset has kicked in to make matters even worse. So they decide to end it all and take their own lives. Now, what can we do to overcome this problem?

We could through more money into mental health services and try to make sure everyone got the help they needed, but that is only a short term fix. That will only lead to us needing to invest even more over time. We need to be thinking a lot more targeted than that. We need to prevent this mindset from ever occurring in the first place, and it shouldn’t happen in our modern world. There is a solution to this problem, and it has been proven to have a difference, but it requires people to demand something from their governments.

What I am talking about is called a Universal Basic Income. This is where the governments give every citizen of their country enough to live on. It has been trialed in places like the US, Finland and Kenya. It has had enormous positive impacts on the sites where it has been trialed, but it is incredibly expensive to put in place on a national level. If we genuinely want to put an end to the scarcity mindset and end the appalling levels of suicide seen in our modern society then we have to put in place a UBI.

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