Thursday, September 8, 2016

Georgia Suicides

Much has been written about the increase in suicides among middle age white males -- a topic near and dear to my heart as a middle age white male. See, for example, this Psychology Today article. So I got to wondering, is this happening in Georgia (where I live and teach and, so far, successfully avoid death).

The short answer -- yes.

The longer answer -- there's a trend toward older suicides in Georgia, at least in the data I analyzed.

First the overall trend. Perhaps the best way is to look at the two graphs below, the top one of suicides by age in 1995, the second in 2015. Clearly 2015 skews a bit more toward older folks. As you can see, in 1995 the ages 35-39 and 40-44 had the most suicides. In 2015, the 50-54 age group dominates. If I fit a trend line you'd see in 2015 the data leans more to the right -- that is, older.

OK, but what about white males? The story is similar. Again, see the graphs below.  As it shows, there's a bump to the right in the later data, with the 50-54 age category being the most prominent in the 2015 data but the younger categories being more prominent in the 1995 data.

Now some numbers. In 1995 the 50-54 age group of white males made up only 4.5 percent of all suicides. By 2015 that same group was at 7.2 percent of all suicides. Some more numbers. In general, in every year, white males make up most of the suicides. In 2015, for example, it usually hovers around the 60 to 70 percent mark. Simply put, white males tend to make up two-thirds of all suicides in any given year, and sometimes it's as high as nearly nine out of 10. In 2015, there were 1,245 suicides in Georgia, 787 of those being by white males. That's in part because there are more whites than blacks in Georgia, so to really do this I'd need to check it out proportionally, by population, but I'm certain without doing the math it's still higher than you'd expect.

There's more I can do with these data, but it's late in the day.

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