A few days ago I posted about suicide rates. Then, I came across this article talking about the happiest states. I decided to visualize the happiness data so you could compare and contrast it against the suicide rates. Interestingly, some states, like Wyoming and Alaska have both high suicide rates and very high rates of happiness. Happiness rankings were based on the following measures: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical healthy; healthy behavior, and basic access. Both maps were made in minutes using this free state statistics software.
Happiness by State
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Suicide Rate by State
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The rate is per 100,000 (2006)
———-Original Post on Suicide Rates———
The other day I was talking to a colleague who was considering taking a job in Seattle, Washington. However, he was hesitant to take a job in place with so much rain. This led to a debate about the relationship between weather, depression, and suicide. This isn’t a topic to be taken lightly, but there are some interesting relationships when you map the suicide rates of different states.
Data comes from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is interesting how suicide rates are higher in the West. Might this have something to do with more lax gun control policies that make suicide attempts more likely to succeed? I don’t have any agenda here, but feel that state visualizations like these are important tools to better understand national trends on serious issues like suicide. If you would like help adding a map like this to your site, please contact us.
Addendum – 4/10/2011
If you are interested in this topic you should check out the work done by economists Daly, Oswald, Wilson and Wu on The Happiness-Suicide Paradox (forthcoming Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization). They find a spatial relationship between suicide and happiness after accounting for individual characteristics like race, income, education and more. They’re not suggesting that happier people are more likely to take their own lives. Rather, that “personal unhappiness may be at its worst when surrounded by those who are relatively more content with their lives.” In other words, cheerful people impose negative externalities on discontent people. Definitely, a thought provoking theory worthy of further exploration.