Monday, December 7, 2015

Suicide Rates Increase as Homicide Rates Decrease?

It's hard to say from just eye-balling his US data. Kind of looks like it, though.

My posts from last Thursday and Friday featured negative correlations between national suicide and homicide rates in two samples of countries: 1) the 20 most populous (r = -.17); and, 2) 24 of the richest and most livable (in my estimation) (r = -.24). Both posts also suggested that combining those two rates might give a better idea of a nation's general level of psychopathology, as opposed to looking at either in isolation. In fact, I raised the troubling idea that reducing homicides might have the unintended effect of increasing suicides, and vice versa.

Here's another way to look at the US data shown above. The blue line is the cause of all the headlines screaming about a "suicide epidemic." The red line is being used to justify cutting state budgets for police and prisons. But the green (combined) line seems relatively steady, increasing only gradually. So fie on those who say things have never been better, and also on those who are proclaiming the end days.

I wonder if some of this is a cohort effect. Perhaps it reflects the spawn of the Baby Boomers (i.e., those born between about 1965 and 1983) passing from their Age of Murder (18 to 29) to their Age of Suicide (34 to 64). People born in 1974 would be committing homicide in 1992-2001 and suicides starting in 2008. If so, settle in for another quarter-century of higher than usual suicide rates.

1 comment:

  1. Malta? Look man, the rate of bird attacks is going to throw off the whold thing.


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