Explaining The Rise In Youth Suicide
The following is a summary of "Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide", by David M. Cutler, Edward Glaeser, Karen Norberg. This article is the best we have found for comparing suicide theories to what the data actually says. It is essential reading because the US data is richer than in many other countries, permitting more insights that may also have applicability outside of the USA. A key characteristic of the US data is that suicide rates amongst US youths aged 15-24 has tripled in the past half-century, even as rates for adults and the elderly have declined. At 13/100,000 suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death, after accidents (which may include some suicides) and homicide. And for every youth suicide completion, there are nearly 400 suicide attempts. Other observations on US data are: * Suicide and homicide are positively correlated.
* Girls attempt suicide more than boys, but boys complete it more than girls. * Suicide clearly decreases with age after adolescence (one reason why The Anika Foundation has chosen to focus on adolescent depression). * Blacks attempt and complete fewer suicides than whites. * Rural states have higher suicide rates.
* Completed suicides are overwhelmingly accomplished with guns in the US. etc. Some of the theories of youth suicide the authors explore are: 1. 'Rational' youth suicide: for example, because of chronic depression. Youths make the judgement that their suffering is such that the unhappiness of life is valued much less than death. 2. Strategic behaviour on the part of youths. Youths have little direct economic or familial power. In such situations, self-injury can be used by youths to signal distress, or to encourage a response by others. Attempts to punish altruistic parents or other adults are a key part of this. 3. Instrumentality (e.g. the ready availability of guns etc), combined with impulsive behaviour. 4. Contagion theories based on...