International Health Data

A really nifty “interactive graph” from the US that compares causes of death with 16 “peer countries”…

Most people are surprised (shocked), as I was, to learn that, according to the WHO, suicides account for about half of all violent deaths globally – i.e. about the same as the combined total of deaths due to homicide and war. This latest data more or less confirms the WHO numbers, though with some variation for individual countries.

Along with cross-country comparisons, of special interest for me was the breakdown of deaths due to “Neuropsychiatric conditions”. We could argue at length about the validity of this data, but it at least gives the mainstream, medical perspective… and also some very peculiar variations between countries (e.g. see deaths due to migraine or insomnia).

As always, some caution is required with data on deaths due to “self-inflicted injuries” – i.e. suicide. For instance, we know that some societies are more likely to record a suicide as an accident due to cultural taboos or to protect insurance claims.

But still interesting data here, I reckon, plus the interactive graph really is nifty.


Study Shows Many Teens at Risk for Suicidal Behavior Despite Mental Health Help | PBS NewsHour | Jan. 9, 2013 | PBS

This study is getting a lot of press in the US (even Fox News picked it up). This link is to a PBS interview with two “experts” who mostly give political non-answers while seemingly scratching their bewildered heads.

The study repeats old news on the high rates of suicidal thinking among young people. What’s new is that many young people are attempting suicide even though they are receiving treatment – i.e. treatment does not appear to be working very well – which seems to bewilder the experts. Especially the rather large number of young people who became suicidal AFTER commencing treatment.

Apparently the study did not look at the different kinds of treatment people may be receiving – i.e. some may work better/worse than others, but we don’t know which.

It’s also worth looking at the online comments that follow the transcript. As usual, I was aching to hear from someone with first-hand experience, and eventually there’s a couple among the comments, which was so refreshing.