Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gender, Age, Ethnicity, and Methods

I have noticed that women seem to commit suicide more often than men in the books and movies I have come across. Women do attempt suicide a lot more in actuality, but as far as the number of fatal (completed) suicides that occur annually, there are more men by far. (Check out interesting stats on suicide rates here, here, and here, and a billion other places that you can find on your own if still interested.)

Further, the elderly have an extremely high rate of suicide, but I don' think I've come across a single thing that has shown an elderly individual killing themselves. I'm most interested in adolescence, so I might seek that out to some extend. But if anybody has ever read a book or seen a movie (of the fictional variety) that portrays elderly suicide, I would be very interested in hearing about it.

I believe every single character I read about who committed suicide was Caucasian. Statistically, that makes sense as the rate of suicide for whites is much higher than nonwhites, but again if anybody comes across something depicting suicide of a minority, I am always interested in recommendations.

As far as methods go, I think I've seen a strangely high number of people committing suicide by cutting/stabbing themselves. Granted, the stats I typically look at are for the US, but I think Europe and Australia are pretty similar from the little I have seen of those. And the top three methods are almost always firearms, then suffocation, then poisoning. Hard to tell exactly how in line the fiction is with the stats without breaking down the numbers exactly, but I think it is safe to say that hanging and overdosing are represented far more than firearm usage. I suppose they look a little less graphic in films?

Overall, though, I have been really impressed with the diversity of perspectives out there, the amount of things I have had the opportunity to read and watch in the past six weeks, and how impressed I have been with most of it. I think I said before that I was really skeptical going in that there would be too much glorifying and romanticizing, but in general the perspective has been rather cautionary. I wish that there was more media showing positive portrayals of psychological help, as usually it is made out to be awful bordering on useless, but I think that is also changing over time as the stigma is starting to decrease a tiny bit. (The HBO show In Treatment looks like an interesting perspective on that, and is something I would like to watch more of when the DVD goes down in price a lot.) Feel free to keep offering suggestions if you come across something you think I'd like! I'm just about ready to head into summer and work more on evolutionary biology stuff than this, but only a couple months away from starting grad school where I'll be back in the midst of it.

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