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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.


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