Friday, April 22, 2011

Happiest places have highest suicide rates

Countries and U.S. states that rank near the top in happiness also rank near the top in suicides rates, U.S. and British researchers suggest.

Professor Andrew Oswald if the University of Warwick England, Stephen Wu of Hamilton College in New York, and Mary C. Daly and Daniel Wilson, both from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, say they used U.S. and international data that included comparisons of a random sample of 1.3 million U.S. adults and another on suicide decisions among about 1 million Americans.

Canada, the United States, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland each indicate relatively high levels of happiness levels, but also high suicide rates. Nevertheless, the researchers note that because of variation in cultures and suicide-reporting conventions, the findings are only suggestive.

Comparing happiness and suicide rates across U.S. states presents an advantage because cultural background, national institutions, language and religion are relatively constant nationwide.

States with people who report they are generally more satisfied with their lives tend to have higher suicide rates. For example, Utah is ranked first in life-satisfaction but has the ninth-highest suicide rate, while New York is ranked 45th in life satisfaction but has the lowest suicide rate in the country. ...

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