Now let’s talk about suicide. Which would actually be the kinder, gentler option.
I have been suicidal. One does not get over that the way one gets over the flu. And I found your remarks on homicide and suicide rates to be interesting but I also had an intuitive sense that they were in some way wrong.
Suicide is not a thing, not an act, not an instant – it is also not a process, not an art, not a work in progress.
It is rather an odd mixture of the two.
I have refrained from killing myself by ramming a bridge abutment just because there was a kid on the bridge above. I took the plunge on a day when everything aligned in a sort of dark miracle – and yes, miracles can be dark, the word itself has no qualitative value.
Ask the guy on the motorcycle who hit the oil patch just as it began to rain, just when his tires were starting to bald, right at the place where the guard rail had already been weakened by previous rains or previous collisions. That is every much as much a miracle as the firefighter in the right place at the right instant to save the child.
It was a day when I was in fuck you mode, when I was tired, when I was hungry, when I found a box of shells I’d forgotten about, which had made me think of the fun I had had hunting with Terry, at a time when Terry and I were no longer friends, and when Baker and I had also quarreled. But I already had a history of depression, I already came from a family of suicides, and I already had the genetic predisposition toward the act and no strong moral feelings that might prevent me from considering it a valid option.
In short it takes so many factors to create a suicide that the idea that the act was a thing at one end of a cut and dried see saw equation felt wrong.
And apparently is wrong. Well, partially wrong. Not all “war zones” are suicide free, not all areas with homicides are suicide free, in some places the two are in fact congruent and in other places things just get really weird.
In fact, the majority of the studies I found after you left said that geography was one of the biggest factors in how the two correlated. Not social conditions, alone, but also the actual physical geography of where they occurred. Which is in itself, pretty freaking weird. The United States even has a “suicide belt”.
Also women are three times more likely to attempt suicide, but men are three times more likely to succeed.
Other pools of strangeness were apparent in racial mixes. African Americans are more likely to externalize their feelings of anger and frustration and are also conditioned to believe others mean them harm and so kill someone else, white middle age middle class guys are more likely to internalize and thus blow themselves away. This would support the axiom that homicide is anger turned outward and suicide is anger turned inward.
Gun availability plays a big role in America; poison availability plays a role in Brazil; and foo crashes (single vehicle fatalities) are preferred in Japanese youth culture.
Evidentially there is more likely to be a correlation and real congruities only in European countries, whereas most Americans (except in Louisiana for some reason) have at least some preference for one or the other, usually suicide although there are some states where murder is preferred and DC is just insane).
And Asians have strong preferences with a very strong negative correlation (with suicide being preferred).
But also interestingly enough, it does seem that in an actual war zone – not a gang heavy place, or riot prone place, or an urban “war zone” but somewhere with actual armies fighting – suicide is fairly rare.
The theory here is that suicide is a choice and requires a certain amount of both personal freedom and personal time. Suicides are very uncommon in places where people have little control over how they will live their lives…or in places where their resources are limited.
This apparently has nothing to do with externalizing one’s sense of mortality according to the studies.
Rather, suicidal ideations are actually very high in such regions. It’s just that it is very difficult to actually act upon the ideation. So the suicidal impulse is not, in fact, lower. Just the ability to actualize the impulse. One cannot eat donuts in a place devoid of donuts but that does not mean you do not want them!