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A reader:

Suicide data are almost worthless, except I’d actually put more faith in Swedish data than US data.

In Rhode Island, for instance, the most Catholic state in the US, suicides are often ruled accidents or undetermined, both from a religious standpoint and regarding possible life-insurance claims.

I once saw a case go through a law office I was working in, and the lawyer on the case told the company not to bother throwing good money after bad by fighting it, a classic closed-garage automobile running suicide, but the police or ME report said that it was not a certain case, as the car radio was on, and perhaps he just wanted to hear to the end of the song …

So, I say take all suicide numbers with a sack of salt.

There is an urban legend that there are 2 or 3 suicides a week at the huge Foxwoods gambling casino hotels, but IIRC, reported suicides in all of CT totaled 260 or 280 the last year for which data were reported.

[Me] Along with ethnicity (which is most likely just a proxy for genetic predisposition), the biggest factor determining suicide rate is probably just availability of methods. In my childhood, when doctors prescribed knock-you-out-for-a-week barbiturates with gay abandon, suicides by overdose were very common. I have seen it written somewhere (but can’t find it) that you get a spike in road-traffic fatalities right after some famous person commits suicide, suggesting that some portion of traffic deaths are deliberate. The map of suicide rate by state here suggests that liberal gun laws have something to do with it too. In New York City cops commit suicide a lot, probably just because they are never far from a loaded handgun. If everyone by law had to have a cyanide tooth implanted at age 10, I doubt many of us would make it to middle age.



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