|"Is it hard for the reader to believe that suicides are sometimes committed to forestall the committing of murder? There is no doubt of it. Nor is there any doubt that murder is sometimes committed to avert suicide." -- Karl Menninger|
Here are the Top 20 countries by population. Together, they account for over 5.1 billion people, almost 75% of the global total.
|19||Democratic Republic of Congo||77,267,000|
Here are the Top 20 countries by homicide rate. You can see some extreme variance in this data, with some countries (e.g., Brazil, Mexico) being highly homicidal and others (e.g., Germany, Japan) not nearly so much. It's useful to restrict tables like this to only the most populous countries because when you are examining low base rate behaviors (e.g., murder, which doesn't happen that often), small variations can make a big impact on population rates, particularly in small countries: one mass murder in Belgium can send their homicide rate soaring. It also allows you to avoid comparing, for example, homicide rates in the USA and Finland. How is that an apples-to-apples comparison? Finland has 5 million people; the USA has 322 million. More people live in Wisconsin, the 20th largest US state, than in Finland.
|1||Democratic Republic of Congo||28.3|
Here are the Top 20 countries by suicide rate. At the low end, we may be seeing the protective effects of traditionally Muslim and Roman Catholic cultures. It is interesting to me that the United States is more a suicidal than a homicidal country. That's not our image, certainly. But we are more likely to use our firearms against ourselves than against anyone else.
|7||Democratic Republic of Congo||10.1|
Here are the Top 20 countries by combined homicide-suicide rate. It's interesting to think of this combined rate as an index of a country's general pathology -- how sick the culture is. It's refreshing to see the USA end up "average" -- nearly as healthy as France, and a step up from Japan.
|1||Democratic Republic of Congo||38.4|
Here is a scatter-plot of these 20 most populous countries' suicide and homicide rates. That trend line indicates a correlation of -.17 between a country's suicide rate and its homicide rate. The more suicides in your country, the fewer homicides, and vice versa. You might have thought that those two variables were positively correlated, but they're not. Seems like Dr. Karl was right. (It makes you wonder about the potential unforeseen effects of, say, the Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention efforts: If they succeed in reducing suicides, might they increase homicides? That's an empirical question, and one worth considering.)