A satirical look at the numbers of suicide in the United States, by age, ethnicity, sex, and method.
While I write this article, 4 people an hour will be in so much emotional or physical pain that they are going to shoot, cut, hang, poison, or drown themselves. I’ll call them suiciders.
In the US, suicide is the 11th highest cause of death for all ages, sexes and ethnicities. In 2005, 32,637 people killed themselves; that’s almost 90 people a day. And suicide is the 3rd cause of death for teenagers and young adults. The rate is slightly higher for the elderly. So it’s the young or the old.
Who is most likely to commit suicide? Overwhelmingly, men. White men, in fact. They totaled 23, 478 of the suicides for 2005. That’s 72% of the total suicides. Next came white females at 19%. I’d say the whites have it here, but when we speak rates per 100,000, Native Americans came in 2nd. You see the rate compares the number of suicides to the total number of people for the category. Only 392 Native Americans committed suicide but that’s high, relatively speaking, since there aren’t many of them alive. Our forefathers saw to that.
Black women are in the lowest rate of all the ethnic categories with only 371 suicides; that’s just over 1%. There’s an incredible paradox here since white typically means privileged and black typically means disadvantaged. I have no answer, just an observation that suicide has the highest rate in the white male category and the lowest in the black female category. Does it take social, political, and economic repression to give someone the will to live?
What’s the favored method? Guns. Our suiciders chose firearms 52% of the time. Hanging came in second at 22%. So again, while I write four suiciders are contemplating, gun or rope. But then, poisoning wasn’t too shabby at almost 18%. That’s gun, rope, or poison? I’ll never be able to commit suicide; I’m too indecisive.
By the way, those statistics are about the successful ones. Let’s talk attempts. There were over 800,000 suicide attempts in 2005, one attempt every 39 seconds. Now while I’m writing this article, I have the added guilt of knowing that 92 people are attempting suicide in an hour. I guess I should feel relieved that they are not so adept at it since only 4% succeed.
Women take heart. We attempt suicide 3 times more than men, but we fail miserably by surviving the attempt. Men are just more efficient at it. I don’t know; maybe it’s the gun thing.
Now, sit back, and calculate how many suiciders will succeed while you read this article.
Data was taken from the American Association of Suicidology.