Skip to main content

Fact of the Month -- Suicide

It's June, the month with the highest suicide rate for persons with major depressive disorder.  So my posts this month will be on the topic of suicide.  Note to friends: This is not a coded message.  I personally am okay right now.

Today's post introduces the "Fact of the Month" feature.  And today's fact comes from David L. Conroy, Out of the Nightmare, who gets his information from the Statistical Abstract, 1989. 

Statistics -- More Suicides Than Homocides

In 1986, out of 2,105,400 deaths from all causes, 30,904 were suicides, 21,731 were homicides, and 47,865 were motor vehicle accident fatalities. [Conroy, p. 279]

These are the official counts.  They don't include the number of single car accidents that were suicides but not recorded as such, nor suicide by cop nor other accidental deaths of suspicious nature.  They do not include diabetics committing suicide by donut, nor overweight people with high blood pressure committing suicide by bacon.

After consideration of public funding priorities, or a night of typical TV viewing, would you have expected that 50% more people die of suicide than homicide?

Five Million People Alive In The US Today Will Die By Suicide

Conroy continues, Absolute numbers may be a more effective way to present the public health problem of suicide than percentages.  It does not seem very substantial to say that officially 1.4% of all deaths are suicides or that the real rate may be 2%.  A different way to present the information is to use the 2% estimate on the 250 million population estimate for the United States.  Five million people now alive will die by suicide.  Twenty-five million more are, or will become, suicide attempters.  Suicide has been, or will be, seriously considered by more than 50 million people. [p. 280]

It's uncomfortable to read, let alone talk about this subject.  For the sake of 50 million Americans alive today, isn't it time we get over it?

flair from facebook

reformatted 11/29/10 


  1. Addition to this post, perhaps deserving of its own post later: According to the Journal for Forensic Science, 36% of police shootings are classified as SBC -- "suicide by cop." That's when somebody does something threatening with the intent of being shot by a police officer. Half of these incidents end with the victim being injured or killed. Two victims, I guess, one being shot and the other doing the shooting.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Mental Health Care as our Institutions Fail

There are twelve psychiatrists in Zimbabwe for a population of 16 million people. When Dixon Chibanda, one of the twelve lost a patient to suicide because she could not afford the $15 bus fare to get to her appointment, he did not blame her for breaking the appointment. He came up with another system to deliver mental health care. He trained grandmothers.

We also have barriers to psychiatric care in the US. Some of these barriers are similar to Zimbabwe's, distance and lack of providers.

There are less than ten psychiatrists for 100,000 people in eastern Oregon, an area with one of the highest suicide rates in the country. An overworked psychiatrist in eastern Oregon came home one day to find seven cows in his driveway. They were not his cows. It was not the first time. Who knows what his day/week/year had been like. He snapped. He shot seven cows, killing six of them.

Unfortunately, he botched the job. The community might have been understanding if he had shot them in the head. …

A Common Struggle - A Review

In A Common Struggle, Patrick Kennedy tells the story that only he can tell.

There are many memoirs of depression, bipolar, co-morbid substance abuse, families that keep secrets, and recovery. Lately there are memoirs that combine a personal story with a cause: get help, get the right diagnosis, find people who can support you, advocate for better treatment.

Kennedy's unique perspective is the insider's view on the long-term national political work of improving mental health care.

His aunt Eunice lobbied for better care for people with mental disabilities and started the Special Olympics. That issue was combined with mental health care in the Community Mental Health Centers Act signed by his uncle John in 1963. His father Edward spend his whole career advancing the cause of universal health care.

Patrick's contribution to his family's record of public service is The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

For political neophytes Kennedy's book is a master c…

Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.

David L. Conroy had me at the opening sentence.  I read it first at and knew it came from somebody who had been there.  I recommend the website for help and insight from the insider's perspective.  If you are thinking about suicide, read this first.