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Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range? - Dhamma Wheel

Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:35 pm

I was shocked to read on the that over 6,000 people committed suicide in the UK during 2011. It didn't really surprise me too much that the rate in the UK had increased in recent years, nor that it was fairly high in the . What surprised me more was the wide range of rates in different countries. Perhaps that is heavily influence by suicides being under reported in some cultures. I would have expected it to be about the same sort of range everywhere — perhaps 5-15 per 100,000.

Some interesting figures:

Sri Lanka = 21.6
UK = 11.8
Seychelles = 4.6 (zero for women)
St Lucia = 2.4 (zero for women)
Pakistan = 0.88
Jamaica = 0.1
Haiti = 0.0

Any thoughts on why suicide is more common among men, or so high in some countries, while being close to zero in some places.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Ben
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:41 pm

I would say it is under reported or unreported in some countries, Bhante.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

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Sam Vara
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:22 pm

The under-reporting is certainly a factor.

The first systematic sociological study of suicide rates was by the French sociologist Emile Durkheim. He looked at comparative rates across European countries and found that suicide negatively correlated with the degree of "social integration" in that society. Countries where people were strongly integrated into social structures and systems of belief tended to have fewer suicides than countries where social bonds were weaker. For example, suicide was more common in Protestant than Catholic societies; in urbanising rather than rural societies; among the armed forces; where there was rapid industrialisation or other economic change; where families were smaller and less extended in structure; and where marriage was less common.

Durkheim's work has taken a lot of criticism, but the "integrative" factors he outlines are often cited as being correlated with suicide rates to this day. And (worth thinking about, this one!) his work points away from a model where a lonely existential "self" makes a despairing choice in isolation, and more towards the operation of impersonal social forces.


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Spiny Norman
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:34 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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Sam Vara
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:48 pm


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Spiny Norman
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:02 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:14 pm

Durkheim's findings are very accurate and appear to be timeless. To this day, we still find higher suicide rates and depression in general among those with less social integration, less religiosity, less of an extended-family structure.

Even among those in very impoverished countries like Haiti and some African countries, the suicide rates are very low -- why -- because the social structure is very close-knit, very strong and religion is a big part of people's lives. In developed countries there is more social isolation, more secularization and more suicides.
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Cittasanto
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Re: Suicide Rates: Why Such A Wide Range?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:47 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.


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