40% of Americans say politics is stressing them out – and some say they’ve even contemplated suicide, study finds
- 40% of Americans surveyed said politics was stressing them out
- One in five reported that they lost sleep over President Donald Trump
- 30% said politics has caused them to lose their temper and 20% said they ended a friendship over differences in political views
- A shocking 4% admitted that politics had caused them to have suicidal thoughts
US politics are literally making Americans sick, a study published Wednesday suggests.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that, in a survey, nearly 40 percent of people said politics was stressing them out – and one in five reported losing sleep over President Donald Trump.
Four percent of those surveyed said they have even been pushed to the point of suicidal thoughts because of politics.
And political tensions are higher than ever, as the US House of Representatives launches a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump over reports that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden – a Democratic front-runner in the 2020 election.
A new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found nearly 30% said they’ve lost their temper as a result of politics. Pictured: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday in New York
Previous studies have focused almost solely on economic costs, such as time lost from work to vote or the monetary costs of supporting a campaign.
But lead author Dr Kevin Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said this study is the first to look at the physical and emotional costs of paying attention to and participating in political discourse.
‘It became apparent, especially during the 2016 electoral season, that this was a polarized nation, and it was getting even more politically polarized,’ Dr Smith said.
‘The cost of that polarization to individuals had not fully been accounted for by social scientists or, indeed, health researchers.’
For the study, published in the journal PLOS One, the team recruited 800 people to complete a 32-question survey about four categories: physical health, mental health, regretted behavior and social/lifestyle costs.
The researchers found that many Americans believe their mental and physical health has been harmed in some way by exposure to politics.
Around 12 percent said politics had adversely affected their physical health while one-third of participants said exposure to media outlets promoting views contrary to personal beliefs had driven them crazy.
Nearly 30 percent said they’ve lost their temper as a result of politics, while around 20 percent said differences in political views have damaged a friendship.
And more than 22 percent, admitted that they care too much about who wins and who loses.
Perhaps the most shocking statistic was the four percent who said they’ve had suicidal thoughts because of politics. That translates into 10 million adults
Dr Smith believes the findings are akin to a public health crisis.
‘Quite a few of the numbers jumped out at me,’ he said.
‘Politics is really negatively affecting a lot of people’s lives, or at least, they’re perceiving that politics is really negatively affecting their lives in deep and meaningful ways.’
He added that stress over politics was more apparent in people who consider themselves left of the political spectrum.
‘One of the things that we’re really interested in is: what happens if a very left-leaning person is elected into the White House?’ Dr Smith said.
‘Do the symptoms stay the same but shift across the ideological spectrum?’
The past few days preceding the study’s publication have certainly tested the stability of both the American political system and the sanity of the citizens living within it.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Tuesday over accusations that he withheld millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine unless the country’s president investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
On Wednesday, the White House released a rough transcript of Trump’s call to Ukraine’s president, which showed he did ask Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate Joe Biden.
In the call, Zelensky asks Trump for an increase in military aid, but Trump responds by saying: ‘I would like you to do us a favor though’ – before asking about the investigation.