Friday, July 30, 2010

It was the latest suicide stats around the world

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and it was per 100,000.

The thing that caught my eye was that the "developing" countries were not really even on the list.

Look at it again. A couple of things stand out.

The highest numbers are former Soviet bloc countries. In those countries, particularly Russia, the gap between male and female suicide is enormous, 70.6 to 11.9, which is comparatively high for the female side. The female suicide rate seems to stay more or less even between countries, whether 1st world countries like Canada or former Soviet countries. But the disparity between male and female, and former Soviet and 1st world countries in male suicide really jumps out.

I have a few ideas but nothing scientific to go with. But it is interesting to speculate why. Worth thinking about.

The list doesn't bear out the ex-Soviet thesis completely. Albania reported 2.4/100,000 male suicides in 2000 with 1.2 female.

There are other factors, of course, that might skew the numbers. Reporting may not be reliable. In some cases doctors will not report a death as a suicide, family members might cover up. I don't know how Muslims feel about suicide (or whether they would count the suicide bombers martyrs) so it is hard to guess what the reporting would be like from predominantly Islamic countries. And it is a sure bet the Chinese aren't telling us everything.

But overall, it seems like it is worth noting that the suicide rate for both men and women seems to be high in countries that have little or no religion. Or have lost their religion.



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1 comment:

dominic said...

I think you are broadly right - the legacy of Communism still takes its bloody toll. (I'm sure you are aware of the abortion rates in these countries too)

It doesn't really explain why Lithuania has such a high suicide rate, though. In general, the Baltic States (and especially Lithuania) were rather less "Sovietized" than those places that had to endure the full reign of Stalin. (The Russian population is a lot smaller than in the other two baltic states, too)

And, while not as devoutedly Catholic to the same degree as the Poles, the Lithuanians (for all that they only became Christians in the 14th century...) are not really all progressivist atheists (in a way that, say, the Czechs, are. I'm making sweeping generalizations, obviously.) - the "hill of crosses" is a national focus, and there is one prominent shrine and place of pilgrimage in the capital city

There must be surely something strange and specific to their culture that contributes to the very high suicide rate there.