Saturday, February 2, 2013 -Posted by Fadi Bejjani
What Do Veterans, Dentists and Scandinavians Have in Common?
Does being around happy people make an unhappy person feel even worse? New research tracking suicide rates suggests it does. The new findings help to explain what has long been a troubling paradox: the happiest places in the world tend to have the highest suicide rates. Numerous studies have shown that places like Denmark and Sweden that consistently score high on measures of happiness and life satisfaction also have relatively high suicide rates.
Utah ranked first in life satisfaction but has the ninth highest suicide rate. By contrast, New York ranks 45th in life satisfaction but had the lowest suicide rate. Hawaii ranked second in life satisfaction and had the fifth highest suicide rate. Meanwhile, New Jersey ranked 47th in happiness and 47th in suicide.
Not every state did not match the trend. For instance, people in New Hampshire ranked 28th in life satisfaction but had the highest suicide rate, after adjusting for variables. Meanwhile, people in Alabama were relatively happy, with the ninth highest life satisfaction score, and also had among the lowest suicide rates, ranking 45th.
Dentists' odds of suicide "are 6.64 times greater than the rest of the working age population," writes researcher Steven Stack. "Dentists suffer from relatively low status within the medical profession and have strained relationships with their clients--few people enjoy going to the dentist." One study of Oregon dentists found that they had the highest suicide rate of any group investigated. A California study found that dentists were surpassed only by chemists and pharmacists. Of 22 occupations examined in Washington state, dentists had a suicide rate second only to that of sheepherders and wool workers
Military suicides jumped about 50 percent between 2001 and 2008 and reached new highs this year: The 26 suicides in July more than doubled the Army’s total from the previous month. The Marines already have equaled their suicide total for all of 2011. And no one — including the Department of Veterans Affairs — seems to know how many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are killing themselves after they are out of the service.
An American-Statesman investigation into the deaths of 266 Texans who served during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars show that 45 committed suicide, making it the fourth-leading cause of death behind illness, accidents and drug-related deaths. That percentage is more than four times higher than the general population: Suicide accounted for 3.6 percent of all Texas deaths over the same period, compared with 16.9 percent of the veterans studied. More than half of the veterans committed suicide before their 30th birthdays. The youngest was 22. All but one of the 45 were men.
The VA estimates that an average of 22 veterans per day commit suicide, or 1 out of 5 suicides in the U.S. That is a lot more death that any the enemy could claim!
Long gone are the days of the victorious Roman Generals returning to Rome in great pomp and triumph. Nowadays, if the soldiers return in one physical piece, they have PTSD or other mental ailments.
This state of affairs is utterly unacceptable. We should each volunteer to adopt a veteran and give him all the Joie de Vivre they may need.