WCVE Forum September 25: “The Suicide Paradox”
Americans are far more likely to know someone who has taken his or her own life than someone who has been murdered. We’re a nation with twice as many suicides than murders each year. Yet the profile of suicide as a public health risk is the opposite – a shameful problem, whose victims and solutions are not the focus of wide debate.
If you were asked 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 there is data available, 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?
Those are just a few of the questions addressed in this edition of Freakonomics Radio, “The Suicide Paradox.”
Tune in for WCVE Forum, Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio.