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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Suicide rates by race and sex

This table lists suicide rates in the US from 2002-2006, by race and sex. Native Americans and whites had by far the highest suicide rates, with black, Hispanics, and Asians/Pacific Islanders at less then half their rate. (I've seen similar tables for other time periods, and the results are similar.)

One hears a lot about the despair on the reservations, and how bleak life is there. That is certainly borne out by this chart. But one also hears about the hopelessness of life in the ghetto. Yet that isn't borne out by the statistics at all. Blacks kill themselves at less than half the rate that whites do.

Strangely, one never hears about the despair and hopelessness of life in the suburbs. Yet whites commit suicide at a rate almost equal to Native Americans. It's hard not to think that were the disparity between the white and black rates reversed, this difference would get a lot more attention from the media. A lot more. And it would be cited as just one more bit of proof of what a racist country we live in.

Another interesting disparity is the difference between the sexes. With the exception of Asians, where the rate is slightly more than twice as high for men as for women, men commit suicide between three and four times as frequently as women.

Yet you never hear of this disparity, either. Were this statistic reversed, one suspects that the media would be making a very big deal of it, and pontificating about how this is proof that it's a man's world, that women are subjugated, and that we need to do something to remedy this. But it's the other way around, so there is, as with the racial disparity, merely a deafening silence.

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