‘You know, the national suicide rate goes down in times of war.’

Some of you may know my love of the movie Harold and Maude, arguably the greatest film of all time. Be that as it may, I did find this article genuinely interesting. So we’ve been at war for years, and not only is the suicide rate in the armed forces on the rise, but the national rate of suicide seems to be holding steady.  I couldn’t find the place where the article got its statistics from, but my online sources told me that rate was about 11 per 100,000, while the article lists 20.  This may be due to the fact that the Army numbers were from 2006, and my statistics were from 2005 at the latest.

True, the title quote is meant to be funny – all the people who want to die get killed by opposing forces, yay!  But  what does it say that those Americans who have participated in the war have much higher suicide rates than during other wars?  What does it mean if that 20 per 100,000 number is correct, and our national suicide rate has doubled in the past year, while it had remained mostly steady from 1995-2005?

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2 Comments

  1. Alex said,

    February 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Not to belittle a 100% increase in the occurrence of suicide anywhere, but I’ll note that going from 10 to 20 per 100,000 is going from .01 to .02% incidence. Let me know when the number gets close to a half of a tenth of a percent, and then I’ll shrug a little more.

  2. sedgehammer said,

    February 4, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for keeping it real. It’s not that many on a large scale – let’s see, only 2,100 or so in 2007, about five people a day. But I agree, nothing when compared to children starving or people dying of AIDS.


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