Suicide vs. Homicide by State, per 100,000

In the latest Freakonomics Radio podcast,’The Suicide Paradox,” we explore, among other things, why suicide is twice as prevalent in the U.S. as murder. From the CDC, here’s a breakdown of state-by-state suicide and homicide rates.

 

Sources: Suicide data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report Volume 58, Number 19, May 2010, Table 29. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_19.pdf. Homicide data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, Expanded Homicide Data 2007, Table 20. Available at http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_20.html.

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  1. Alex Kerin says:

    Could you provide a link to the Excel/Data file you created for this? I would like to map this and look for regional trends.

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  2. Mike Virgilio says:

    While it might falsely imply that there is a correlation between the two, a scatter plot might be better at showing the relationship.

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  3. Eric M. Jones. says:

    Fascinating chart, but after studying it, I have to pronounce it DOA. My reason is that grouping the stats by states is so entirely distorting that it destroys any meaning that the chart might have. Viz:

    “Pittsburgh on one side, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in the middle.” —somebody

    And this shows the problem clearly. It would be an enormous challenge to create visuals that would give the detailed data some comprehensibility. Also because of the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, detailed city by city data is probably hard for the Feds to collect. What city wants the Feds to know its firepower and despair?

    ps: NYC has online data detailing deaths that goes way back….start by seeing: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ip/ip-index.shtml

    5,581 New York City Violent Deaths in 1925

    1272 Automobile Accidents
    994 Suicides
    925 Falls from high places
    631 Gas
    439 Burns
    416 Drowning (Ferrys?)
    356 Homicides
    343 Trucks
    167 Taxicabs
    140 Accidental Poisoning
    117 Collisions (Streetcars?)
    95 Falling objects
    95 Swimming
    87 Elevators
    56 Subways and Elevated Trains
    52 Railroad Trains
    14 Accidental Shooting
    11 Capsizing Boats
    6 Baseball
    5 Kicked by horses
    1 Football
    1 Aeroplane

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  4. Steve M says:

    Looks like there may be some relationship between suicide rate and population density. Is there a ready plot for that?

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  5. Impossibly Stupid says:

    Please re-do the chart to include the number of automobile-related deaths per year. Here is the data:

    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesCrashesAndAllVictims.aspx

    The point being, I really don’t see why suicide and homicide should be singled out or presumed to be related in any way. Suicide isn’t the only cause of death that dwarfs murder but receives very little attention.

    I would also argue that, in many ways, suicide *better* represents “a fractured promise within our social contract”. Murder happens for all sorts of . . . expected . . . reasons. Suicide, on the other hand, too often happens (or, at least, we feel most guilty when it happens) for reasons we *should* be able to prevent as a society.

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    • AaronS says:

      I think that suicide and homicide are related because they are have the element of “intent to kill” in them. Accidents do not have this intent. Nor do Acts of God (assuming God’s not really behind it!).

      But while one person intends to kill himself; the other intends to kill someone else. (I am assuming, of course, that someone getting hit by a drunk driver is not being counted as a homicide–i.e., purposeful killing.)

      At least I think that may be why they are related. Oddly enough, it seems that the people who have the money and time to education to engage in retrospection–or perhaps the person who realizes that there is more to life…and he/she isn’t going to ever attain it–are the ones who kill themselves. The folks who are in hard circumstances and don’t really know or imagine another existence are (in a good way) like the dog that is hit by a car, but never knows self-pity. All that person knows to do is to live on, to survive.

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    • Amy says:

      The main reason to link them, in my view, is to wake people up a little. We worry about the crime rate; we don’t worry about the suicide rate. Putting homicide and suicide together shows us how misguided that is. If we want to save lives, we should address the causes of suicide.

      And, yes, we should address automobile deaths too. We are way too easy on bad drivers, treating driving as a right rather than as a privilege. E.g., there are countries where the penalty for a first DUI is to lose one’s license, or go to prison; the proportion of fatal accidents caused by DUI is much lower there.

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  6. Steve Rein says:

    Why not calculate the ratio then use google correlate to come up with some possible theories?

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  7. James says:

    Though it’s hard to be sure from statewide data, it seems as though homicide is more likely in urbanized states, suicide in rural ones. Even some of the outliers seem to support this: though we think of Alaska & Nevada as rural states, much of the population actually lives in one or two urban concentrations. It’s be interesting to see this done by county or zip code, and correlated with population density.

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  8. Joshua Northey says:

    “we explore, among other things, why suicide is twice as prevalent in the U.S. as murder”

    Suicide can be a sensible response to life’s problems. So can murder.

    I would posit that suicide is often the better choice in our current environment, and that is what is driving the above.

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