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As Bitcoin prices spiral downward, suicide looms large

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With Bitcoin halving in value on news that major exchange BTC China had suspended renminbi deposits in compliance with new government regulations, a telling post sits atop a subreddit for those who trade the volatile cryptocurrency: the number for a suicide hotline.

“Please sticky: U.S.A. Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Remember, it's just money,” reads the /r/bitcoin header, followed by a brief explanation that alludes to holiday stress and depression. “This is a big crash and it's coming at a pretty tough time of year for most people. There is a spike in suicides this time of year, even without the tough times for BTC.”

The assumption, of course, is that when prices plummet, so do those undone by the market—as popularly imagined in the wake of 1929 crash. But even if the tableau of Wall Street tycoons lining up to take a dive out a skyscraper window lacks historical heft, it’s true that catastrophic financial turns can take an enormous toll and cause erratic behavior.

Still, many Redditors were skeptical of the need for psychological support in this crisis, especially in light of a 50% crash this past spring. “By the lack of ‘I've put my life savings into bitcoin’ posts compared with April, I hope no one will need this,” one commented, while another was calmly bearish: “I was gutted when in April my net bitcoin worth fell from ~$500 to ~$100. After this crash, it's still at over $1000. Put your coins somewhere safe and look at the charts again in 6 months time.” 

“The only person I'm worried about,” wrote a third, “is the guy who blew through his and his sisters' inheritance. Everyone else I hope BTC isn't more than 10% of your portfolio.” He was referencing an investor’s distraught plea for advice, posted on /r/bitcoin less than a month ago—the exact sort of thing you won’t see on the subreddit today, as “emotional posts” have been summarily banned for the time being, along with memes and constant price checks.

“The reason the ban was put in place is to reduce the volume of short, meaningless submissions to give posts about actual news more exposure,” moderators explained. “This ban is mainly aimed at non-content posts. You can discuss and talk about the current situation and price crash, but don't resort to posts like ‘OMG! Bubble popped! Sell, sell, sell!’, or ‘400 USD/BTC WTF?’.”

In other words, save your hysteria for someone who can talk you out of it.

Photo by Karolina Kabat/Flickr