It best not be forgotten that suicide is a top 10 killer in Australia (1a). Age is, of course, the most important risk factor and, as many of you will know, the age bracket most at risk is . . . the 85 years and older (1a*, 1).
Further, as you will no doubt also be aware, the safest group to be in, going by the sheer numbers, where they actually count the bodies, is . . . teenagers.
Huh. I’ll just double check my numbers here; ok teen suicide, age 15-19 years, yes: the least likely to actually self harm resulting in death. How about that?
Yep. Least. Of the entire population. Let that sink in. Just as you thought hey?
The “women and children first bias”.
Well, no, actually.
Men account for 75% of the suicides, the median age of onset is ~45 years old, and the 7 year survival rate for successfully completed suicide in this bracket is, understandably, prognostically quite poor (4).
Before you ask, the most common way to die is hanging, or a hanging variant. Yeah, the majority. Overdose is next, but three to four fold less common. I know. Blew my mind as well. And these people are suppose to have lived? 8.5% by alcohol/car exhaust. Guns are at 7%. But get this – jumping off something is grouped with “and other“: that is how rare it is (5). Who knew. And in a male dominated sport no less: few cars, less guns, and almost no jumping off high stuff. There isn’t always truth in stereotypes apparently; is that the lesson?
I genuinely had a “Mulan moment”: where I had to make sure they didn’t send me the stats for daughters, when I asked for sons. Legit.
The second sex comes in second place, (yawn), again: accounting for only 25% of the deaths by suicide. Probably couldn’t choose an outfit. What? It is not me; the report only comments on those two anchor points on the gender spectrum (4). Real prejudice is subtle.
“Women”, to their credit, do tend to get in a little bit earlier (well, the men are still alive at that point aren’t they? The great motivators. I can’t prove that is related. Kids are probably still alive too. What? I’m just noting some raw factoids. I’m just saying probs. They are probs alive. And it is probably not even related >> . . . I wouldn’t worry about it hey).
It is worth remarking, however, that the median age of female suicide is also ~45 years. About on pa. So if suicide is decimating the elderly, and is frequent for those in midlife: why the gosh darn heck (yeah, I said heck) have I even heard the word pairing “teen suicide” like it is a “thing”? And then they are the least likely! I tell ya’, it is that mari-ju-anna, saps the motivation. Commit suicide? Pfft, please. Teens can’t commit to anything.
Of course, we don’t write “death by suicide” on the main table; this is a Christian country. We put it on a separate graph in the appendix. We aren’t monsters after all; we’re medical professionals. But you are more than welcome to check my numbers against the 3303.0 report that came out at the end of this past March (2014) (1).
Consider for a moment what might be going on here.
Nah, I’ll just tell you. Quicker.
This is an extension of what professor Carlin calls “Child Worship” in his 2008 critique on Social and Health Policy (published under the title “It’s Bad for Ya”) (6).
We idolize life in the form of youth as a vicarious pseudo immortality fount. That, or we don’t (we do). Fear guided funding at its most abstract. We are so collectively afraid of death that we legislate and fund the fear. Or not. But suicide is illegal. In truth, I was just shocked to learn not all depressed teens were hot; TV lied to me again (ABS report really doesn’t pull any punches this year).
The point is: I could be turning 70 soon, for all I know; and the idea of my kids surviving me in a “World War Z” type scenario, based on some argument of intrinsic value, makes me sick to my stomach. Listen, there are plenty more Hitlers than Mozarts; believe you me. And I’m not excluding my brats from that either:
“I’ve got a better idea; I’ll go with the nice colonel to the UN command carrier away from the zombies – but you can keep the golf mug and pair of socks. Still wrapped, how bout that? Hey, kids, it is literally the least I could do. Do you know how small the bunks and lockers are on these UN command carriers? Gotta travel light.”
The number 1 killer, by far, is cardiac ischemia et al vascular disease (2). Again. Always wins hands down. Top two spots actually.
This is why I particularly love it when a doctor asks:
“…is there a history of cardiac disease in your family?”
Why yes doctor, now that you mention it, I am a human being . . . you studied for how many. . . look, is there, um, anyone else I could . . . you know what: it’s fine.
Use that information as well as you can. Don’t let the fact that whoever comes in here, unless their parents are immortal like my own (*you shut your mouth, that women is a saint and will never die NEVER -_-), will likely answer “yes” to that question. Or that, If they don’t know, you should probably just assume it anyway, you know, if it helps. Better than flipping a coin? Who knows.
Existential threat is wasted on the young and healthy (but oh too terrifying to consider clearly later). The truth is, you can slice up the WHO data a lot of interesting ways (7).
But on suicide, if you want my advice, spare any sympathy you had for whiny teens. Give it to the real high risk groups:
1. The ~45 year olds who are stuck actually dealing with legitimate problems in the too teen addled world, and;
2. The over 85 year olds who have watched their friends and family die, while a debilitating, but slow working, disease devours their body from the inside; such to match their moth-eaten-by-life, long time tormented, hole ridden, soul. (1b*,1c*).
*JJR is the psychiatry & research science investigator for the Chronicle LS.
J(J)R (2014). On Teen Suicide (An Australian Perspective), JchronLettSc: Col, 7(4). Ed7.
1a* In males only is suicide a top 10 killer. Female 14th.
1b* Hyperbole; soul not confirmed by 3303.0 data set.
1c* Also, people can live to 120 years relatively as healthy as any other time in their life: and you never know where you are on the spectrum. And neither do specialists. At all. In fact especially specialists. Ask them.
(1)(ABS 3303.0, Released March, 2014) – http://tinyurl.com/pxdjbfv
(2) 3303.0 Overall Mortality – http://tinyurl.com/o97broc
(3) 3303.0 Key characteristics – http://tinyurl.com/mgey8ab
(4) 3303.0 Age – http://tinyurl.com/o2vnbnx
(5) 3303.0 Method – http://tinyurl.com/pk5659c
(6) Carlin (2008) – http://tinyurl.com/o99y3zc
(7) WHO Methods for Divining Cause of Death, WHO Bulletin v(84, 4, 297) (ac2014) ~ http://tinyurl.com/ldfbnuy
(8) Criminal Code 28-291-311/2, QLD, (1899) – http://tinyurl.com/o8eznnc
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline(for young people aged 5 to 25 years): 1800 55 1800