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Beet
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« on: February 22, 2012, 11:56:11 am »
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What drives people who seemingly have plenty going for them, to suicide? It's remarkable how normal people can seem, and how their friends and family think they're fine, and then all of a sudden they're dead in some gruesome way. I know some people say it's a cowardly way out, but I think it takes courage to off yourself successfully. The will to live and fear of death is very strong in ordinary people. And dying is painful and-- particularly bleeding and suffocating methods-- often rather slow. I've been in the place where everything was black, my world shrunk down to nothing, and I cared for neither tomorrow or anything outside my room, couldn't get up out of bed or speak to anyone, but in those times self-harm did not occur to me. I'm not sure anyone who has not been there can truly understand it, but perhaps someone on the forum has some thoughts.
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 01:04:07 pm »
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Frustration. 

The frustration of Tibetan monks (whose holy leader must remain in exile) leads them to set themselves ablaze.  The frustration of the adolescent female in Taliban-controlled waziristan who must marry the man her father picks out for her leads her to jump off a cliff.  The frustration of an abused and neglected teen whose guidance councillor says nothing more profound, when the teen visits him to ask for help, than "drugs are bad, mkay?" takes his own life with his father's handgun.  The frustration of an authoritarian dictator who only two years ago ruled all of Europe and much of Northern Africa, but who now will be humiliated at the hands of lowly Soviet army sergeants unless he bites down on that sodium cyanide tablet.

It's extreme frustration, man.  That's the way it happens.

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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 01:15:10 pm »
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2012, 01:22:43 pm »
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From what I understand a fair share of suicides are failed failed attempts - people who deep down may not really want it but is doing it as a cry for help, etc.

I used to live with thoughts like that for a long time as a kid. I mentally formulated my first suicide note when I was something like 5 years old. I was never really close to doing anything though.

A girl I played with as a kid who lived in my neighbourhood shot herself when she was 16. Pretty, rich, lots of friends. No one really knew why (or if someone did it never became public enough for me to know about it). That funeral was not a nice experience. I think it was very, very hard on the family. I met the dad a couple of times later (last time only 4 months ago) and he still looked really sad...
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 01:26:18 pm »
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From what I understand a fair share of suicides are failed failed attempts - people who deep down may not really want it but is doing it as a cry for help, etc.

If you're failing, then you're not really trying.  I agree with you that the "attempts" are attention grabs, but I presumed that the question asked about those truly doing it.

Beet, I'm with you:  even in my darkest moments I never contemplated such a thing as taking my own life.  Part of it is because I'm not very spiritual to begin with.  If I had a soul, then I might not be afraid of letting it move on, but if all I have is this life, and no matter how bad it gets, then it is preferable to nothingness.  Also, it just seems wrong to kill myself.  Also, it is a matter of simple vanity. 

Then you grow up and have a family, and the pressures are even greater, and the stress is even greater, but so is the will to live.  So now you are compelled to keep grinding it out because others depend upon you for moral, economic, and practical support.  Now it becomes even more wrong to end your own life.  And now you have even more reason for the simple vanity that pushes you forward.  Life gets harder, but at the same time so does the need to go on living it.

I agree that you can't truly know, but speculation is all we can do, since you can't really ask the victim of a successful suicide attempt anything, can you?  Well, I guess you could ask, but you needn't wait around for an answer.  Still, as nearly as I can tell, what they all have in common, whether they do it in protest of some political policy, or as a way to draw attention to some great perceived wrong, or as an escape from a harsh reality, or as a means to avoid a difficult decision, or simply to avoid the embarrassment of being taken alive and tried in a court of law, the one common thread is that they're all extremely frustrated. 

Maybe we have just never been quite so frustrated.
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 02:15:00 pm »
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Excluding cases where someone is on their death bed and they just don't want to be in pain anymore it's likely a myriad of different things.

Brain chemistry certainly factors in heavily in many cases - after all, we know that certain meds which do alter brain chemistry can in some people trigger suicidal thoughts.
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 02:35:07 pm »
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From what I understand a fair share of suicides are failed failed attempts - people who deep down may not really want it but is doing it as a cry for help, etc.

If you're failing, then you're not really trying.  I agree with you that the "attempts" are attention grabs, but I presumed that the question asked about those truly doing it.

Beet, I'm with you:  even in my darkest moments I never contemplated such a thing as taking my own life.  Part of it is because I'm not very spiritual to begin with.  If I had a soul, then I might not be afraid of letting it move on, but if all I have is this life, and no matter how bad it gets, then it is preferable to nothingness.  Also, it just seems wrong to kill myself.  Also, it is a matter of simple vanity. 

Then you grow up and have a family, and the pressures are even greater, and the stress is even greater, but so is the will to live.  So now you are compelled to keep grinding it out because others depend upon you for moral, economic, and practical support.  Now it becomes even more wrong to end your own life.  And now you have even more reason for the simple vanity that pushes you forward.  Life gets harder, but at the same time so does the need to go on living it.

I agree that you can't truly know, but speculation is all we can do, since you can't really ask the victim of a successful suicide attempt anything, can you?  Well, I guess you could ask, but you needn't wait around for an answer.  Still, as nearly as I can tell, what they all have in common, whether they do it in protest of some political policy, or as a way to draw attention to some great perceived wrong, or as an escape from a harsh reality, or as a means to avoid a difficult decision, or simply to avoid the embarrassment of being taken alive and tried in a court of law, the one common thread is that they're all extremely frustrated. 

Maybe we have just never been quite so frustrated.


Angus, my point was that from what I recall from psychology class, some people not really intending to kill themselves still end up doing it, because things go wrong, they push it too far, etc. And that this, furthermore, was fairly common.
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 02:44:15 pm »
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Angus, my point was that from what I recall from psychology class, some people not really intending to kill themselves still end up doing it, because things go wrong, they push it too far, etc. And that this, furthermore, was fairly common.

point taken.  We're all engaging in a little pop psychology, so we should be careful.  

I can't remember what my psychology book said about it.  Been a long time since I had a psychology class.  I did do a little google search after your post and found that one of the world's leading experts on suicide says that it comes about when folks seek a solution to a problem, and that solution is cessation of consciousness.  But at some point he does talk about extreme frustration, so I guess I was on to something.  People with high standards get frustrated when progress is hindered, or something like that.

The only two cases I ever dwell on are Ludwig Boltzmann, who hung himself while vacationing because folks didn't accept his statistical model of thermodynamics, and the mother of a boy in my first grade class who jumped of a very high bridge after her husband left her.  I only know that because I was sitting very near the front of the bus on the last day that the bus let the boy off at his house and his elder sister got on the bus to explain to the bus driver that he wouldn't need to stop there any more after that day because they were going to live with an aunt in Los Angeles.  Both of those individuals were very serious about killing themselves, I'd imagine.
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 02:54:07 pm »
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I agree with the chemical explanation. When you're in that dark place, you're incapable of feeling the least bit of pleasure, and you just have this agonizing sadness.

I've found the worst depression to be the type where you're depressed but still have your head above water, so to speak. You have the energy your normally have, but you carry this weight of depression around and it drives you crazy. You're angry at yourself and others and you can't figure out how to get out of this prison. The other type of depression is easier to deal with, the one where it's overwhelming and you have no energy or desire to do anything but to crawl into bed and let the sadness wrap around you like a protective blanket. Because that at least is a comfort, in a strange way.

As for suicide, my thoughts on it have changed. I used to think it was a brave act. I consider myself a bit of an artist, and the Romantic appeal of it fascinated me. But the selfishness of it unsettles me. If you know someone cares for you, whether it be a friend, family member, whoever, it's unfair to hurt them. I can see doing it if you truly have no one who would give a damn, or feel you don't, and I can see doing it if you have  a terminal illness. But other then that, it's too morally objectionable for my tastes.

I've struggled with suicide temptation fairly often, but I've been fortunate in that I've never formulated a plan. I credit that to knowing I have people who care about me, and also, that my depression tends to zap my willpower, making any planing unfeasible. Plus, fear of death and whatever comes after death. It's odd. Even when I don't have anything that gives me pleasure and sleep a lot, I still don't want things to just end permanently. I like the idea that life always has the potential to get better. Maybe I AM an optimist, ha ha. Smiley

Anyway, I'm inclined to think that you have to be hardwired  a certain way to not only find suicide appealing, but to go through with it. Many people experience terrible sadness and hopelessness for long periods of time, and never kill themselves. I wonder what exactly is the dividing line between them and those who do choose to end their lives?

Fascinating subject.


 
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 05:08:17 pm »
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I'm sure there are loads of reasons, and no doubt ultimately everything we do is determined by a combination of body chemistry and social control, but still, suicide makes a lot of sense - if you just keep hanging on you're bound to end badly, in the end.  Most people do, and it ranges from mildly unpleasant to horrifically painful.
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 06:07:49 pm »
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My experiences with suicide are likely different than those who have "plenty going for them," but in a nutshell, it may revert back to mental illness. One is more likely to commit suicide, regardless of financial standing, fame, etc., if they are depressed.
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 07:44:39 pm »
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Thanks everyone for the interesting replies here so far.

I would like to add that I have seriously thought things that most people would consider mad-- for example, at one point in my life I really believed that world events were influenced by things such as whether or not I wanted them to happen. It's not all that different from prayer, really. At another time I believed that there was some invisible force acting against me, conspiring to make my life a living hell, and I couldn't shake that belief until I was able to grasp in my mind some specific things that happened to me in which I was lucky. I've also had personal habits over the years that if you had told me before I developed these habits, I would not have believed you, nor did I believe it as I was developing them. I have at least two mental conditions which I believe are not really diagnosed as an acknowledged conditions, although more common conditions similar to them have been.

The human mind is an incredibly versatile thing. The diversity you will find out there is amazing. 'Society' is just a caricature of where our minds can meet in the real world and find some semblance of common ground, but there's a lot there which you don't see.
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 08:08:19 pm »
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The frustration of an authoritarian dictator who only two years ago ruled all of Europe and much of Northern Africa, but who now will be humiliated at the hands of lowly Soviet army sergeants unless he bites down on that sodium cyanide tablet.

Wasn't Hitler (along with Stalin and Mao) more of a totalitarian as opposed to an authoritarian
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2012, 05:58:49 am »
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I can tell you when I attempted suicide several years ago, it was because I was a broke alcoholic with no connections to anyone. I had no home, no job, nothing. I was out of touch with my family and friends and there was just nothing going for me. I'm already predisposed to depression, so it wasn't much more that could have pushed me over the edge.

I'm glad now that I didn't succeed. My life has gone in a completely different and more positive direction since then. But sometimes, if you're pushed far enough, you'll act. Suicide comes when the emotional or physical tole outweighs the coping mechanisms our minds naturally employ. It's not always due to chemical imbalance, but rather also the situations one finds themselves frequently boxed into which triggers a fight or flight response.
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 06:19:02 am »
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Suicide comes when the emotional or physical tole outweighs the coping mechanisms our minds naturally employ. It's not always due to chemical imbalance, but rather also the situations one finds themselves frequently boxed into which triggers a fight or flight response.

^^^ this.

Also, sorry to hear that Sad Glad you're better though Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2012, 06:22:24 am »
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Suicide comes when the emotional or physical tole outweighs the coping mechanisms our minds naturally employ. It's not always due to chemical imbalance, but rather also the situations one finds themselves frequently boxed into which triggers a fight or flight response.

^^^ this.

Also, sorry to hear that Sad Glad you're better though Smiley

It's alright. I've said before on here that I'm up front about my experiences with it. To me, it's part of the healing process.

Also, everyone's situation can improve. Also, suicide is not from cowardice and it's often hard for me to take when I hear people say that. The human psyche is deeper than that. It's an excuse used by people who do not wish to justify the emotions or feelings of the afflicted person.
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« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2012, 09:06:18 am »
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Suicide comes when the emotional or physical tole outweighs the coping mechanisms our minds naturally employ. It's not always due to chemical imbalance, but rather also the situations one finds themselves frequently boxed into which triggers a fight or flight response.

^^^ this.

Also, sorry to hear that Sad Glad you're better though Smiley

Also, suicide is not from cowardice and it's often hard for me to take when I hear people say that. The human psyche is deeper than that. It's an excuse used by people who do not wish to justify the emotions or feelings of the afflicted person.

Yes, this. Hearing people say that drives me nuts, as well as when people say depression is not a real disease. It's almost like telling a gay person that they chose to be that way. BS.
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« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 10:45:52 am »
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I'm sure there are loads of reasons, and no doubt ultimately everything we do is determined by a combination of body chemistry and social control, but still, suicide makes a lot of sense - if you just keep hanging on you're bound to end badly, in the end.  Most people do, and it ranges from mildly unpleasant to horrifically painful.

Wait, you're not ready to give up the good food and good Thai putana yet, are you, opebo? 
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« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2012, 11:21:24 am »
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My own personal observation (and I've talked to a couple of psychologists who agree, though with no proof) is that we are generally divided into those who could commit suicide and those who could not.  I've long suspected it's something in the genetic makeup.  I doubt religion has much to do with it, though it could prevent those predisposed to suicide from doing it.

The thought of committing suicide has never crossed my mind, no matter how bad things got.  I've known others like that too.  And I am fairly religious.  On the other hand, there were always people we knew who talked about and were certainly capable of it.
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« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 11:55:48 am »
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I doubt religion has much to do with it,

I agree.  Buddhism is against it, yet there are Buddhist monks who set themselves ablaze.  Islam is against it, yet there are Muslims who kill themselves in protest.  Catholicism is against it, yet there are Catholic priests who take their own lives.  The ancient Egyptians were resurrectionists, but there were Egyptian rulers and citizens who killed themselves.  It seems that most religions are against it, yet most religions have practicioners who kill themselves.  If you're without religion, then you would seem to have the most reason not to commit suicide, and yet there are, among the irreligious, those who kill themselves.  There are also cults whose members are directed to commit suicide, and among those members there are always a few who refuse, such as the Jonestown people who survived by hiding under their cots.  Overall, religion (or lack thereof) seems not to be a deciding factor, although there might be a slight correlation, if someone cares to look that up.

There is, on the other hand, a strong correlation of suicide rates by region.  Polar countries have higher suicide rates than equatorial ones.  Even in the united states, this trend holds among the states:  Alaska has the highest rate per 100K residents, with Montana and North Dakota not far behind.  On the other hand, the suicide rate is fairly low in Georgia, Texas, and California.  There is some noise, though, with Connecticut having the lowest rate even though it's farther north than, say, New Mexico, which has a relatively high rate.  That may also have some economic bias attached, though.  I've never seen such data "corrected" for economic indicators.  Anyway, the theory I read some time ago (I think when it came up on this forum, actually), was that places with very long nights (or days) make people weird and despondent.  There was also a trend in homicide rates that ran the opposite:  high in equatorial regions and low in polar regions.  So, if you're in Fargo, you kill yourself but not others.  If you're in Atlanta, you'll kill others but not yourself.  Something in that, I think. 

There were also a rash of articles about why suicide rates were high in the "happiest places" a few years back.  E.g., Norway and Denmark have very high "happy" scale scores, and fairly high suicide rates as well.  Mexico and Egypt have fairly low "happy" scale scores, and fairly low suicide rates as well.  That was being explained via relative comparisons by some researchers.  Other researchers didn't put much stock into it and suggested that the long, dark winters had more to do with it.  Still others pointed to population density and tried to make some correlation with that.  Actually, in the US that trend sort of holds (e.g., Alaska versus Connecticut).
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« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2012, 12:56:23 pm »
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I'm sure there are loads of reasons, and no doubt ultimately everything we do is determined by a combination of body chemistry and social control, but still, suicide makes a lot of sense - if you just keep hanging on you're bound to end badly, in the end.  Most people do, and it ranges from mildly unpleasant to horrifically painful.

Wait, you're not ready to give up the good food and good Thai putana yet, are you, opebo? 

No, not yet, but let us not forget, Grumps, that all our sensory organs, as well as the desirables they delect, will very soon be worm-food.  I certainly wouldn't be averse to a good old injection a bit before the bitter end, or perhaps strapped up with the proper equipment among someone against whom I bear a grudge.  Remember, our brevity of existence has the potential to be a weapon of sorts, n'est-ce pas?
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« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2012, 01:16:25 pm »
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Surely you bear no grudges, old top?  Seriously, I can't imagine that you bear anyone any grudge.
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« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2012, 01:24:59 pm »
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Surely you bear no grudges, old top?  Seriously, I can't imagine that you bear anyone any grudge.

Not yet, but it isn't impossible, theoretically.
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« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2012, 01:37:20 pm »
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I'm sure there are loads of reasons, and no doubt ultimately everything we do is determined by a combination of body chemistry and social control, but still, suicide makes a lot of sense - if you just keep hanging on you're bound to end badly, in the end.  Most people do, and it ranges from mildly unpleasant to horrifically painful.

Wait, you're not ready to give up the good food and good Thai putana yet, are you, opebo? 

No, not yet, but let us not forget, Grumps, that all our sensory organs, as well as the desirables they delect, will very soon be worm-food.  I certainly wouldn't be averse to a good old injection a bit before the bitter end, or perhaps strapped up with the proper equipment among someone against whom I bear a grudge.  Remember, our brevity of existence has the potential to be a weapon of sorts, n'est-ce pas?

Oh I"m in all in favor of offing yourself before the bitter end.
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« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2012, 09:20:35 am »
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I doubt religion has much to do with it,

I agree.  Buddhism is against it, yet there are Buddhist monks who set themselves ablaze.  Islam is against it, yet there are Muslims who kill themselves in protest.  Catholicism is against it, yet there are Catholic priests who take their own lives.  The ancient Egyptians were resurrectionists, but there were Egyptian rulers and citizens who killed themselves.  It seems that most religions are against it, yet most religions have practicioners who kill themselves.  If you're without religion, then you would seem to have the most reason not to commit suicide, and yet there are, among the irreligious, those who kill themselves.  There are also cults whose members are directed to commit suicide, and among those members there are always a few who refuse, such as the Jonestown people who survived by hiding under their cots.  Overall, religion (or lack thereof) seems not to be a deciding factor, although there might be a slight correlation, if someone cares to look that up.

There is, on the other hand, a strong correlation of suicide rates by region.  Polar countries have higher suicide rates than equatorial ones.  Even in the united states, this trend holds among the states:  Alaska has the highest rate per 100K residents, with Montana and North Dakota not far behind.  On the other hand, the suicide rate is fairly low in Georgia, Texas, and California.  There is some noise, though, with Connecticut having the lowest rate even though it's farther north than, say, New Mexico, which has a relatively high rate.  That may also have some economic bias attached, though.  I've never seen such data "corrected" for economic indicators.  Anyway, the theory I read some time ago (I think when it came up on this forum, actually), was that places with very long nights (or days) make people weird and despondent.  There was also a trend in homicide rates that ran the opposite:  high in equatorial regions and low in polar regions.  So, if you're in Fargo, you kill yourself but not others.  If you're in Atlanta, you'll kill others but not yourself.  Something in that, I think. 

There were also a rash of articles about why suicide rates were high in the "happiest places" a few years back.  E.g., Norway and Denmark have very high "happy" scale scores, and fairly high suicide rates as well.  Mexico and Egypt have fairly low "happy" scale scores, and fairly low suicide rates as well.  That was being explained via relative comparisons by some researchers.  Other researchers didn't put much stock into it and suggested that the long, dark winters had more to do with it.  Still others pointed to population density and tried to make some correlation with that.  Actually, in the US that trend sort of holds (e.g., Alaska versus Connecticut).


The idea that happy rich countries have high suicide rates have little to no empirical support. Denmark and Norway have rates similar to the US for example.

I also suspect that a lot of religious countries have highly deflated figures. My guess would be that a lot of suicides are reported as accidents in countries where suicide may have legal and/or social reprecussions.
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