Sunday, July 06, 2008

Don't Jump!!!

I enjoyed Roy's Sunday Morning Coffee Links, especially the pictures of the giraffes.

I was away for part of the holiday weekend, rediscovering the value of R & R (good stuff). I got to the New York Times Magazine a little late, but there was a terrific article about impulsive suicides. The article, The Urge to End It, by Scott Anderson, made the point that the most lethal of suicide methods-- firearms and jumping from high places among them-- are often the methods used by people who attempt suicide on impulse and that blocking access to these means often prevents people from dying. He points to the fact that 90% (at least) of those who've been stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge don't end up dying of suicide, that suicide rails lower the rates of completed suicide, that the suicide rate in Britain dropped with the elimination of coal gas:

For generations, the people of Britain heated their homes and fueled their stoves with coal gas. While plentiful and cheap, coal-derived gas could also be deadly; in its unburned form, it released very high levels of carbon monoxide, and an open valve or a leak in a closed space could induce asphyxiation in a matter of minutes. This extreme toxicity also made it a preferred method of suicide. “Sticking one’s head in the oven” became so common in Britain that by the late 1950s it accounted for some 2,500 suicides a year, almost half the nation’s total.

Those numbers began dropping over the next decade as the British government embarked on a program to phase out coal gas in favor of the much cleaner natural gas. By the early 1970s, the amount of carbon monoxide running through domestic gas lines had been reduced to nearly zero. During those same years, Britain’s national suicide rate dropped by nearly a third, and it has remained close to that reduced level ever since.

It's a good article, well worth the read.

Someone remind me that I want to talk about Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love.