Friday, August 19, 2005

More Killed by Suicide than War

I was curious how the casualties in war compares to homicides around the world. Does more violence occur in countries or between them? Or how terrorists attacks compare to homicides. Which really begs the question would Americans be safer if instead of spending all the money to fight terrorist "over there" we instead used the money to increase police to fight gangs, organized crime and violent people "over here".

I was also curious if "peace" were to break out over the world and there were no more wars, how many people would still violent deaths. If instead of working towards global peace if it made more sense to try and work toward minimizing homicides. To the person that died there is little difference between dying in war and dying via homicide.

In my quest for knowledge I came across something that blew my mind. Do you know the person most likely to take your life? You. In something I found startling, suicides outnumber homicide and war deaths combined. I found some good stats over at the WHO. Well they answered the questions I was asking, not sure about their accuracy because they don't show how they derived these numbers. Don't they know you are always supposed to show your work on the internet?

Deaths due to Injuries Worldwide, 2000

Type of Injury# of deathsRate per 100,000
Road traffic Incident1,260,000 21.0
Suicide 815,000 15.5
Interpersonal violence 520,000 8.6
Drowning450,000 7.5
Poisoning315,000 5.1
War and conflict310 000 5.1

The WHO also has some good breakdowns by countries on suicide here and a .pdf by country here. Thanks to the gun nuts, I was also able to get some good data on homicides and suicides in particular countries. I like this page and this guncite page.

I still wish I was able to get some breakdown of interpersonal violence between individuals and gangs/organized crime. Wish I also could see how large terrorism was. I also wish I had homicide/war/suicide world map/country rates. Then you could see on something like a Google Map how this stuff pans out. is in the right direction, but their map doesn't work and their data is a bit incomplete. Also would like to see all three on the same map to see how things correlate.

Thoughts on data:
1) War is #3 killer, so maybe there should be more emphasis on promoting "peace" inside countries and inside individuals than between countries.

2) Looking just at suicide and homicide, they don't appear to be correlated very much. I thought maybe you would see high suicide correlate with high murder or maybe with low murder. Instead you have regional differences that appear to have more to do with culture.

high suicide/high homicide => Former USSR/Eastern Europe
low suicide/high homicide => Latin America
medium suicide/medium homicide => US, Most of Western Europe
high suicide/low homicide => Japan
low suicide/low homicide => Turkey, Greece, Kuwait (random, huh?)

This leads me to believe that low suicide and homicide are possible everywhere, but major cultural shifts will have to take place for it to happen.

3) US, Mexico and Japan have similar rates of total deaths but they look completely different.

CountrySuicide RateHomicide RateCombined Rate
US 11.67 6.3 18.55
Japan 17.93 0.6 18.54
Mexico 3.00 14.0 17.00

4) While deaths in Iraq get all the news, there have only (alright "only" is a bad word) 848 deaths in 2004 vs. approx 16,500 homicides and approx 30,000 suicides in the US. Why aren't homicide and suicide victims as worthy of media attention as fallen soldiers?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very unique view on the topic of death. Add self-destructive behaviors leading to death with suicide "long term suicide", and the numbers will be off the charts. Why do we kill ourselves as humans?

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