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The Suicide Paradox (Replay)

Season 7, Episode 45 There are more than twice as many suicides as murders in the U.S., but suicide attracts far less scrutiny. Stephen J. Dubner digs through the numbers and finds all kinds of surprises. To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “The Suicide Paradox.”

7/12/18

The Suicide Paradox

Season 1, Episode 3

If I were to ask you what’s more common in the U.S., homicide or suicide, what would you say?
Homicide is certainly a lot more prominent; it’s constantly in the headlines and in our public consciousness. But the fact is that suicide is more than twice as common as homicide. The preliminary numbers for 2009, the most recent year for which we have data, show there were roughly 36,500 suicides in the U.S. and roughly 16,500 homicides.

So why don’t we hear more about suicide? In part because it is a very different type of tragedy. Murder represents a fractured promise within our social contract, and it’s got an obvious villain. Suicide represents –- well, what does it represent? It’s hard to say. It carries such a strong taboo that most of us just don’t discuss it much. The result is that there are far more questions about suicide than answers. Like: do we do enough to prevent it? How do you prevent it? And the biggest question of all: why do people commit suicide?

6/22/11

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