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Wed May 7, 2014, 11:10 PM

White male suicide rate could exceed Black male homicide victimisation rate within thirty years

National suicide rates were in decline in the United States until 2000. Since then they have steadily risen across the board; however the increase has been particularly prevalent amongst white males, particularly those aged 45-64 and those 85 years of age or older.

For white males in the US, the rate currently stands at 26 per 100 000, however, the statistic masks substantial discrepancies within that group. The suicide rate for so-called "white ethnics" - predominantly Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish men - has always been much lower than those for Protestants, a phenomenon first analysed a century ago in Durkheim's Suicide, the first modern sociological treatise. Still, the suicide rates for white men in America are now significantly higher than Europeans, even those living in Protestant countries.

By comparison, the male Black homicide victimisation rate stands at 32 per 100 000, a bleak statistic often cited by Black leaders as a disgrace and a national emergency. However, the long term decline in homicide in the US as well as the steady increase in suicide mean that a convergence between the two statistics is likely to take place in the next thirty years.

Another risk factor for suicide is living in a rural location. In predominantly Protestant, rural Montana, the male suicide rate is now 33 per 100 000, although this is attributable in part to a similarly high suicide rate amongst native Americans. The rate is so high that male Montanans are now at a greater risk of dying by gunshot wound than males in Puerto Rico, albeit that in Montana those gunshot wounds are almost universally self-inflicted. In some parts of Montana it is uncommon for students to complete high school without knowing at least one student, typically male, that has committed suicide.

In response to the high rate, the state government instituted a taskforce on suicide, but there is widespread acknowledgement that there are no easy fixes for the problem. The growth in suicide amongst middle-aged white men seems to be related largely to economic factors. Some parts of the country have seen not only the decline of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, but also the service industries have continued to shed jobs, leaving many men without employment prospects.

At least some deaths in this category appear to be life insurance suicides, essentially a last-ditch attempt by despairing men to provide for their families when jobs are scarce. Perhaps unbeknownst to many such men, insurance companies frequently decline to pay out in instances where there are indications that the suicide was a deliberate rather than impulsive act, and therefore a breach of the insured's duty of disclosure.

The protective effect of religious practices against suicide has been well documented. However it appears that Protestantism (both mainline and evangelical) has less of a protective effect than other religions in this regard. Traditionally this was attributed to Catholic doctrinal aversions to suicide; however this overlooks the fact that Black Protestants have low rates of suicide, doctrinal similarities notwithstanding. A better explanation is that whereas Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish communities emphasise the importance of community, Protestantism generally focuses on the supremacy of the individual and his or her relationship with God. The growth of Protestant megachurches, which feature large, anonymous crowds in remote locations only accessible by car, and ministers that appear only as distant, charismatic figures rather than close family friends are typical of this religious tradition.


This is a cut and paste from an undergrad essay that was part of a presentation done at my old school's sociology department called "On Durkheim". I have permission from the author to repost. It was part of a larger paper but this part in particular stood out.

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Reply White male suicide rate could exceed Black male homicide victimisation rate within thirty years (Original post)
shaayecanaan May 2014 OP
lumberjack_jeff May 2014 #1
shaayecanaan May 2014 #2
Major Nikon May 2014 #3
bettyellen May 2014 #4
Major Nikon May 2014 #5

Response to shaayecanaan (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 11:46 PM

1. By any measure of social health men of all racial backgrounds are hurting.


I'm not going to get into which is the more pressing problem, because in my view suicide and violent victimization are both front burner issues.

White men, black men, hispanic men and native american men all suffer the ills that afflict men in varying proportion. I'm not sure that there's all that much to be gained by prioritizing suicide because it afflicts white guys or alcoholism because it afflicts native american guys or violent victimization because it afflicts black guys or workplace injury because it afflicts hispanic guys.

I think that men should demand remedies to ALL of them because they collectively harm men (and their families) in general.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #1)

Thu May 8, 2014, 02:51 AM

2. Not suggesting otherwise

nor am I suggesting that this is because of women/feminists or any other external cause. By all indications this is a deep seated cultural problem for white men and it has been for a very long time.

There was a discussion around the issue which was pleasantly substantive. Someone did mention that it smacked of a "league table of suffering" mentality, although everyone readily acknowledged that this was a Sui generis issue and not a commentary on race relations as a whole.

Someone also mentioned that suicide tended to skew towards older white men (highest for 85 plus) whereas homicide was mainly a problem for young black men. So to a large extent the issue was elderly white men electing to go gracefully rather than fight for the last few years. Fair enough, although there is the issue of why women don't feel the need to go gracefully. Someone also suggested that if black men lived as long as white men there might be more elderly suicides, although the life expectancies for white and black men have been converging and so far that hasn't happened.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #1)

Thu May 8, 2014, 11:35 AM

3. Men are disparately affected by 14 of the 15 leading causes of death

Virtually all 14 can be mitigated in some way. Suicide and homicide are 2 of those 14. The fact that none of them are a national priority reflects the disability of men in general and are conveniently ignored by those who like to tally up gender privilege with things like women not being able to find clothes that fit properly.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #3)

Thu May 8, 2014, 12:32 PM

4. tally up gender privilege with things like women not being able to find clothes that fit properly?


where the hell did you see that? and how did you miss the actual important issues that women here care about?

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #4)

Thu May 8, 2014, 03:04 PM

5. ...


I never said or never would say there aren't "actual important issues that women here care about". Nor would I ever say they shouldn't care about them. Nor would I ever say anyone shouldn't advocate for improvements to those issues. In fact, I am very passionate about many of those issues as a husband and father of a daughter as many of those issues directly impact my family and I personally lobby on behalf of them in all sorts of ways. So those aren't just "actual important issues that women here care about", they are actual important issues that men here also care about.

What I am commenting about are those here on this site with given every opportunity, seek to minimize, ridicule, and disparage anyone who dares bring up issues that are important to men, only one of which is disparate impact on 14 of the 15 leading causes of death, while at the same time tallying up as many de minimis issues as they can find in order to demonstrate the privilege of others. When one can't recognize one's own gender privilege, they probably shouldn't demand others recognize theirs.

Just sayin'

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