U.S. Suicide Rates Rise

News reports today discuss the prevalence and rise of suicide in the U.S. We reported in depth on the topic of suicide in our 2011 hour-long podcast “The Suicide Paradox.” The episode explores the surprising numbers of suicide (it is twice as common as homicide), the “suicide belt” in America, and the racial differences (blacks are only about half as likely to commit suicide).


That's a lengthy podcast

Andreas Moser

That's not necessarily suicide.
Depending on how it's done, I applaud suicide. It is people taking their life into their own hand, instead of relying on coincidence or fate. They weren't asked if they wanted to be born, so they shouldn't get criticized for wishing to end their life.
Suicide is the ultimate exercise of freedom: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/world-suicide-prevention-day-on-10-september/

Joel Bryant

Suicide makes sense but it doesn't make life any less sacred though we take it into our own hands. Characteristically, it is more of a form of cowardice than courage. Besides, it suggests omniscience on the part of the person whose act asserts, "Things are never going to change." I understand it and have often considered it but this doesn't make it a legitimate prescription for our problems.


Suicide is a tragic corruption of a heart and a soul. The evil that steals a life that has the possibility of eternal bliss is heinous indeed. What kind of freedom is there in canceling out the only course of action that leads to true liberty?

Hal Jordan

Suicide is an awful means of escape that absolutely no person should ever be driven to, or consider, at any point.

The fact that these tragic losses of life are on the increases is one of the most horrible tragedies in today's society. Suicide does not painlessly take someone out of existence, it harms families, friends, anyone remotely connected to the person. It is not 'an expression of freedom', or 'taking their life into their own hands', it's the ultimate escape for those at the end of their tether, with nothing left to give or invest in this world due to loss, failure and rejection.

Voice of Reason

I think that most studies show that the biggest factor in terms of who commits suicide is their social situation, and how isolated they are. Regardless of what people may think, it doesn't matter how good somebody's life is if they shut themselves out, or have little to no human contact, conversely, the social group can help people in even the roughest times.

Studies have found that cultures that encourage togetherness tend to commit suicide at lower rates than those who foster isolation and independance. Blacks usually have more of a community focus than whites, and tend to be more social. I'd assume that's why they commit suicide less.


If I were the people studying suicide I would rethink Durkheim. Been there and done that and I say a serious study will perhaps reveal the problem to be generally one of weak controls/regulation- at the level of society--think about it- no gun regulation, family is anything goes, economy allows companies huge amount of freedom and vote is irrelevant (no one in Washington is listening, instead doing their thing). Durkheim looks at society from without. This requires a huge committment on the part of the researcher to take his work and `general' perspective seriously. Other than Steven Lukes whose analysis of Durkheim was telling, I have not come across a sociologist yet willing and able to collaborate on this serious matter.


I'm surprised that anyone would seriously try to connect gun regulation with suicide, since there are so many more readily accessible and less messy ways to do away with oneself: ropes, knives, high buildings or cliffs, a large number of garden plants...


There was a significant reduction in suicide in the UK when we switched from 'town gas' to natural gas in the 1970s. People used to put their heads in the gas oven and suffocate themselves with the town gas, natural gas was lighter and dispersed quickly making suffocation impossible.

The point is that whilst some people will go to great length to commit suicide, for many it is a rash decision - these are the people who can be saved by gun control, limits on the amounts of pain killers you can buy etc.