The Happiest Places Have The Highest Suicide Rates

The Danish royal family: are they really happy? Photo: Bill Ebbesen

The Danish royal family: Are they really so happy? Photo: Bill Ebbesen

From ScienceDaily:

The happiest countries and happiest U.S. states tend to have the highest suicide rates, according to research from the UK’s University of Warwick, Hamilton College in New York and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.The new research paper titled “Dark Contrasts: The Paradox of High Rates of Suicide in Happy Places” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. It uses U.S. and international data, which included first-time comparisons of a newly available random sample of 1.3 million Americans, and another on suicide decisions among an independent random sample of approximately 1 million Americans.

The research confirmed a little known and seemingly puzzling fact: many happy countries have unusually high rates of suicide. This observation has been made from time to time about individual nations, especially in the case of Denmark. This new research found that a range of nations — including: Canada, the United States, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland, display relatively high happiness levels and yet also have high suicide rates. Nevertheless the researchers note that, because of variation in cultures and suicide-reporting conventions, such cross-country scatter plots are only suggestive. To confirm the relationship between levels of happiness and rates of suicide within a geographical area, the researchers turned to two very large data sets covering a single country, the United States.

The scientific advantage of comparing happiness and suicide rates across U.S. states is that cultural background, national institutions, language and religion are relatively constant across a single country. While still not absolutely perfect, as the States are not identical, comparing the different areas of the country gave a much more homogeneous population to examine rather than a global sample of nations.

Comparing U.S. states in this way produced the same result. States with people who are generally more satisfied with their lives tended to have higher suicide rates than those with lower average levels of life satisfaction. For example, the raw data showed that Utah is ranked first in life-satisfaction, but has the 9th highest suicide rate. Meanwhile, New York was ranked 45th in life satisfaction, yet had the lowest suicide rate in the country.

Read more here.

, ,

  • Hadrian999

    makes sense to me, in a place with a high overall happiness level there would exist a greater disparity between the happiness of normal people and the unhappy, in a place with low general happiness the miserable people would barely notice a difference.

  • Hadrian999

    makes sense to me, in a place with a high overall happiness level there would exist a greater disparity between the happiness of normal people and the unhappy, in a place with low general happiness the miserable people would barely notice a difference.

    • OneWonders

      That is a really interesting idea…

    • quartz99

      that plus the fact that in free and happy societies, there’s less stigma or perceived consequences for suicide — in highly religious or highly autocratic societies, the whole family may be dishonored by a suicide and most religions say that you’re going straight to whatever they call their version of hell if you suicide, but a free and open society makes it a personal choice. Both are pretty powerful incentives not to commit suicide but also cause great amounts of unhappiness.

  • BD

    Being a danish citizen I can’t really say that there are lots of suicides here, at least not many that you hear about, and the news tend to be out fast with such things.
    A reason for Denmark being high on the list, could be that statistics from Greenland which is a part of the danish kingdom are included, and suicide rates in greenland are really high. But then again that’s just me thinking out loud.

  • BD

    Being a danish citizen I can’t really say that there are lots of suicides here, at least not many that you hear about, and the news tend to be out fast with such things.
    A reason for Denmark being high on the list, could be that statistics from Greenland which is a part of the danish kingdom are included, and suicide rates in greenland are really high. But then again that’s just me thinking out loud.

    • Laureandreu

      Dear BD, I am from Denmark aswell and you might want to think that the reason for a ”low” number on suicides is that we are only 6 million people in the country, hence the difficulty to acctually know someone who has commited suicide.

      In my opinion these ”happy places” have a high suicide rate because of the superficial life style the inhabitants endure… for instance, ask yourself this….
      How many of your young friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. can go by a single weekend with out a sip of alcohol and dont think that their weekend was crappy? I surely dont know many (sad but true). Perhaps i just havent met the ”right” people, but i highly doubt it.

      • BD

        I have to agree on that you got a point there

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3Q3JZYMD2F7YGQS6GNUWPKYK5E Turbulent_red

    Lets examine utah they have it all the nice white picket fence the dog and 3 kids and such an when shit hits the fan they question it an lose it. Where people in new york are crowded miserable and when shit hits the fan they accept it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3Q3JZYMD2F7YGQS6GNUWPKYK5E Turbulent_red

    Lets examine utah they have it all the nice white picket fence the dog and 3 kids and such an when shit hits the fan they question it an lose it. Where people in new york are crowded miserable and when shit hits the fan they accept it.

  • Yeshua NJ Leapers

    The US army has a high suicide rate. They must be happy as hell.

  • Yeshua NJ Leapers

    The US army has a high suicide rate. They must be happy as hell.

    • Dickarmy666

      they’re all happy coz they know they’re going to hell for killing children and innocents. :D

  • OneWonders

    That is a really interesting idea…

  • ArgosyJones

    If sad people kill themselves, they’re dead, and don’t bring down the average.

  • ArgosyJones

    If sad people kill themselves, they’re dead, and don’t bring down the average.

  • DeepCough

    Well, I guess happiness must really be a “mental illness,” and those “happiest places” must be crazy as shit.

  • DeepCough

    Well, I guess happiness must really be a “mental illness,” and those “happiest places” must be crazy as shit.

  • Dickarmy666

    they’re all happy coz they know they’re going to hell for killing children and innocents. :D

  • Laureandreu

    Dear BD, I am from Denmark aswell and you might want to think that the reason for a ”low” number on suicides is that we are only 6 million people in the country, hence the difficulty to acctually know someone who has commited suicide.

    In my opinion these ”happy places” have a high suicide rate because of the superficial life style the inhabitants endure… for instance, ask yourself this….
    How many of your young friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. can go by a single weekend with out a sip of alcohol and dont think that their weekend was crappy? I surely dont know many (sad but true). Perhaps i just havent met the ”right” people, but i highly doubt it.

  • Laureandreu

    Dear BD, I am from Denmark aswell and you might want to think that the reason for a ”low” number on suicides is that we are only 6 million people in the country, hence the difficulty to acctually know someone who has commited suicide.

    In my opinion these ”happy places” have a high suicide rate because of the superficial life style the inhabitants endure… for instance, ask yourself this….
    How many of your young friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. can go by a single weekend with out a sip of alcohol and dont think that their weekend was crappy? I surely dont know many (sad but true). Perhaps i just havent met the ”right” people, but i highly doubt it.

  • BD

    I have to agree on that you got a point there

  • http://hotreplicawatches8.com Replica Rolex

    Once upon a time,were considered only watches.Replica Watches not yet introduced and people had to bear the simple watches they were happy.There was simply no need for Replica Rolex since most of the watches were simple and affordable.In those days most of the watches were simple timepieces and most were affordable. Yes, there were hints that made his body in gold, but it was not enough to go to the people and order. Now was not that expensive, nor that watches them. Replica Breitling. The new generation professionals have enough money to be able to enjoy the finer things in life.
    However, not all of them have the financial capacity to go for brands such as replica tag heuer, replica cartier, replica omega, etc. These professionals are now hoping to have found with these cheap replica watches. Then there are two major advantages in the luxury watches replica. Firstly, you do not have to pay an astronomical price for it, and secondly, these replica audemars piguet for most leaders and the more expensive brands are available. People like to see and show love, especially with the girls. The best way to show your class is by wearing replica panerai. Can you imagine what impression you make on your friends and colleagues when you wearing Cartier replica panerai in the morning and Piaget replica watch in the evening?

  • Anonymous

    that plus the fact that in free and happy societies, there’s less stigma or perceived consequences for suicide — in highly religious or highly autocratic societies, the whole family may be dishonored by a suicide and most religions say that you’re going straight to whatever they call their version of hell if you suicide, but a free and open society makes it a personal choice. Both are pretty powerful incentives not to commit suicide but also cause great amounts of unhappiness.

  • Anonymous

    Hey disinfo, pleez remove this crap from the forum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1523517472 Frank Ra

    Hello! What about the effects that giving so much prominence to self-esteem/self-love/self-developmenet etc. has on suicidal behaviour? In Western psychology, it was often postulated that one needs to develop self-esteem in order to properly relate with the world.

    Understanding the value and values of all beings is certainly necessary to interact with the world; however, what happens when we give to one own esteem a kind of priority on the rest? Focusing on self-esteem may result in the vicious circle: self-esteem, self, self-interest, greed, feeling disconnected from other people, need to reinforce self-esteem, etc. What about leaving self-esteem (which is strongly conditional) and moving towards acceptance (unconditional), appreciation and embracing? Would this have a beneficial impact and lower suicide rates in the happiest countries? With acceptance, instead of self-esteem, people in happiest countries would not feel the pressure of constant comparing to the ones who appear to be even luckier than them (in relationship, financially, healthy, career-wise, etc.).

    Thanks! Peace and metta,

    frank
    http://www.amareway.org
    http://www.iswb.org/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1523517472 Frank Ra

    Hello! What about the effects that giving so much prominence to self-esteem/self-love/self-developmenet etc. has on suicidal behaviour? In Western psychology, it was often postulated that one needs to develop self-esteem in order to properly relate with the world.

    Understanding the value and values of all beings is certainly necessary to interact with the world; however, what happens when we give to one own esteem a kind of priority on the rest? Focusing on self-esteem may result in the vicious circle: self-esteem, self, self-interest, greed, feeling disconnected from other people, need to reinforce self-esteem, etc. What about leaving self-esteem (which is strongly conditional) and moving towards acceptance (unconditional), appreciation and embracing? Would this have a beneficial impact and lower suicide rates in the happiest countries? With acceptance, instead of self-esteem, people in happiest countries would not feel the pressure of constant comparing to the ones who appear to be even luckier than them (in relationship, financially, healthy, career-wise, etc.).

    Thanks! Peace and metta,

    frank
    http://www.amareway.org
    http://www.iswb.org/