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Old 25.10.2010, 14:56
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The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

From what is to me an unlikely source - the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco comes a paper about how seemingly happy places - like Switzerland - also have very high suicide rates.

From the paper:

Quote:
Human well‐being is increasingly studied in science and social science [1‐7]. A common claim of many countries and even states within the U.S. is that they are filled with happy and/or satisfied people. Rankings from the World Values Survey and the U.S. General Social Survey frequently appear in the press—and more scholarly outlets—where we learn that Danes, Swedes, and the Swiss are among the most satisfied people in Europe and that it may be better to reside in Alaska than in California [2,8].

A rarely‐noted difficulty is that these notably ‘happy’ places have high rates of suicide. While this puzzling fact has been remarked on occasionally for individual nations, especially for the case of Denmark, it has been attributed in an anecdotal way to idiosyncratic features of the location in question (e.g., the dark winters in Scandinavia), problems or variations in measurement of well‐being and/or suicide, or differences in culture and attitudes regarding happiness and taking one’s life. Few scholars have thought of the anecdotal observation as a systematic relationship robust to replication and investigation.

A further, and potentially related, empirical issue has been discussed but never resolved in the literature on the epidemiology of suicide. There is no known explanation for the statistical evidence that suicide rates drop during wartime [9‐11].

A possible cross‐country association between happiness and suicide has been mentioned, albeit in passing, in innovative previous work examining whether survey data on subjective well‐being might be used as tractable markers of population mental health [12].

Other research has examined the spatial patterns in suicide [eg. 13].
Food for thought....
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:01
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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From what is to me an unlikely source - the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco comes a paper about how seemingly happy places - like Switzerland - also have very high suicide rates.

From the paper:

Food for thought....
Thought provoking indeed...

My thought on it (without any formal study, mind you) is that people who actually feel comfortable complaining / admitting to being unhappy are less likely to commit suicide.

Similar to folks who go on and on about how perfect their marriage or job is and then get a divorce or quit "out of the blue," I think a lot of people who are SO unhappy that they go so far as to commit suicide have a tendency to deny - even to themselves - just how unhappy they are.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:02
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

I guess seeing everyone around you happy is going to exaggerate your own sense of unhappiness and push you over ? A village full of poor people don't look at their neighbour and feel poor...
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:06
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

maybe the reason that so many people in these places seem happy is partly because the ones that are unhappy enough to end it all have already done so?
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:08
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

People who have to really work to survive don't have the luxury to think about suicide. Having three meals a day seems to cause some brain damage.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:13
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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People who have to really work to survive don't have the luxury to think about suicide. Having three meals a day seems to cause some brain damage.
Agreed.

If you are too busy surviving then you haven't got time to think about suicide. It is something for people who have too much time on their hands.

The other big flaw is that "happiness" and "quality of life" in Western countries is usually measured in material values, i.e. buying power, access to services etc etc. rather than mental state. This, imo, huge flaw in the process means that the correlations between what is an affluent country and suicide rates - two very measurable criteria - is not as straightforward as this article would like to suggest.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:14
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

One thing that might skew the results for Switzerland is the 'Suicide tourists' that come here to shuffle off this mortal coil, my parents counted 4 on the easyjet flight over here (all in wheel-chairs, all looking pretty ill, all on oxygen, travelling in convoy), God knows why you'd travel easyjet if it was your last few days on earth, that’s like asking for a MacDonald’s for your last meal before the electric chair...
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:18
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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One thing that might skew the results for Switzerland is the 'Suicide tourists' that come here to shuffle off this mortal coil, my parents counted 4 on the easyjet flight over here (all in wheel-chairs, all looking pretty ill, all on oxygen, travelling in convoy), God knows why you'd travel easyjet if it was your last few days on earth, thatís like asking for a MacDonaldís for your last meal before the electric chair...

How "dark" that is but goodness that actually made me laugh out loud. (complete with shocked look from the cat at such a sudden noise)
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:18
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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...thatís like asking for a MacDonaldís for your last meal before the electric chair...
Indeed

"Mr Reynolds said most of the meals requested by the inmates were fast "food staples like McDonalds, KFC or Burger King.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:27
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

Check your facts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...y_suicide_rate

Switzerland is number 17, lower than 6 EU countries, and almost even with France. Denmark appears way down at place 42, ahead of the USA which is at place 40.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:31
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

I don't put any store in the happiness surveys. My first visit here I was struck by the huge percentage of dour looking people, and even on rare warm sunny days you encounter many (certainly in Zurich) who wear the expression of one who's favourite aunt just died.

I don't believe happiness or joy are in nearly as plentiful supply as money in this country. I blame it on the tiny 1dl glasses of wine mixed with a pinch too much of introversion.
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:33
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

If I was French or Belgian , I'd be very unhappy and want to kill myself too...
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:34
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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God knows why you'd travel easyjet if it was your last few days on earth, thatís like asking for a MacDonaldís for your last meal before the electric chair.

Totally, I would demand KFC!
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Old 25.10.2010, 15:38
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

I wouldn't trust the official numbers from more than half of those countries!

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Check your facts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...y_suicide_rate

Switzerland is number 17, lower than 6 EU countries, and almost even with France. Denmark appears way down at place 42, ahead of the USA which is at place 40.
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Old 25.10.2010, 18:10
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Re: The Happiness-Suicide Paradox

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Check your facts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...y_suicide_rate

Switzerland is number 17, lower than 6 EU countries, and almost even with France. Denmark appears way down at place 42, ahead of the USA which is at place 40.
Not my facts to check, best to contact the Fed of SF for that Wikipedia correction.
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