Suicide ain’t painless IV: What is going on in the Americas?

In the first installment of this series, we have looked at the situation in the ex-Warsaw Pact. The spike we saw in the suicide rates during the 1990s could be explained by the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, some of the other trends are a little harder to interpret. To see what we mean, let us look at some graphs.

Regional graphs

We have already discussed the post-Warsaw pact situation, so here we will touch on the other regions.

Africa The African numbers are very low, but also quite rapidly increasing. A quick look at the data shows that essentially 100% of the numbers for Africa are the numbers for (the Republic of) South Africa, and our statistics (which start 1996 for that region coincide roughly with the African National Congress (ANC) rule in the country. It should be noted that ANC, despite the very good press it has received in the West is an avowed Communist and racist organization, and the economy of the country is being destroyed systematically. As for the numbers being low in absolute terms – this seems to be a phenomenon of the entire sub-Saharan Africa — apparently, suicide is more-or-less foreign to the culture (though violence is most certainly not).

Asia The Asian numbers are largely those for South Korea and Japan, and these are quite heavily concentrated among the older (75+) cohort. This author’s guess is that there are a number of factors that enter:

  • Life expectancy is very high in South Korea and Japan (and getting higher), so these cohorts are quite large (and growing larger with the low birth rates and the consequent aging of the population.
  • There has been considerable social change in these generally very traditional societies. This change is particularly hard to countenance by older people.
  • In Japan particularly, there has been the much-discussed economic stagnation, so it is possible that more older people feel themselves a burden on their family.

Middle East A look at the data shows that the suicide rates (and absolute numbers) in the Muslim countries is extremely low, and so the Middle Eastern numbers are dominated by Israel. Here, the period considered is (with exceptions, which, ironically, coincide almost exactly with the flattening of the graph) dominated by Binyamin Netanyahu, both as Prime Minister and as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance under Ariel Sharon – Netanyahu had adopted a more muscular stance vis-a-vis the Palestinians, as well as had reformed the previously heavily Socialist Israeli economy, the latter providing a considerable boost to the Israeli economy and the former helping Israelis out of their previously uncertain and guilt-ridden state of mind, which led many (even patriotic) Israelis to question the long-term survival of the country. No more.

Europe The Europe rate decline before 2006 seems a mystery, but as we shall see, it is not so hard to explain: the answer, in two words is: “East Germany”. Indeed, while the population of Germany grew but some 3% between 1990 and 2007 years, the number of suicides dropped by 4000, and the suicide rate declined from 18.5 to 11.5. The 4000 drop is responsible for about 70% of the drop in the total number of suicides in Europe. The remaining 30% is entirely due to France, and I really cannot tell why.

The Americas We now get to the most interesting (or depressing, if you prefer) region. The suicide rate in the Americas was dropping until around 2000 and then started growing rapidly. Now, the absolute number (9.2 at the peak) is not that high, but let us look at some representative countries:

Suicide rates in the Americas

First we note the continued rise (off a rather low base) in Mexico and Brazil. Both countries have been woefully misgoverned during this period, with increasing Socialism in both. The most spectacular graph, however, is the one for the United States. Suicide rate was falling slowly until 2001, at which point it rose, first slowly under George W. Bush then rapidly under Barack H. Obama’s leadership. A closer look shows that the suicides have been particularly prevalent in the middle age white men cohort.This author sees two reasons for this. The first is the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has led to a high number of combat veterans (the suicide rates of which is two-to-three times that of general population). The other is the much-documented “war on white men”, and the hollowing out of the traditional US heartland (for popular references, see Tucker Carlson’s “Ship of Fools”, and Victor Davis Hansen’s “The case for Trump”). Since these groups were instrumental in getting Donald J Trump elected President, the hope is that the numbers have started declining again (they had not in 2017).

Trump’s Inauguration

The last few days (really three months) have seen a lot of excitement, especially on the left, where my FaceBook feed is full apocalyptic pronouncements. The question is: why? The answer is: the Trump phenomenon is a reaction. It is a counter-revolution, to the Cultural Revolution which has been in progress for the last seventy years, and, as Die Internationale says: he, who was nothing, has a chance of becoming everything (and vice versa, which is why the dominant group is quaking in fear). I feel funny saying this, since, having grown up in the Soviet Union, being a “reactionary” or a “counter-revolutionary” was a bad thing, and yet, here I am, being one. My main concern vis-a-vis Trump have always been that he was all talk, and after the election we would have exactly the same thing as before, with some orange hair on top, but Trump’s cabinet selections, and the first few days’ activities allay my fears somewhat.

Where did the Cultural Revolution come from? There is the benign view, expressed by David Gelernter in America-Lite: that the Revolution was a by-product of the the transformation of American universities in the middle of the century, and the increasing power of the chattering class (especially the Jews, with their contrarian intellectual tradition). Then, there is the not-so-benign view, expressed by M. Stanton (Stan) Evans in Stalin’s Secret Agents. This holds that there was a concerted (and very successful) effort by the agents of Comintern to subvert American government and culture. Interestingly, the major agents of this change have, again, been the Jews who left Germany in the late twenties and early thirties – Communists (among whom there was a disproportional number of Jews) were losing the civil war against the Nazis, and so were fleeing to the New World. Once there, they had no intention of stopping their Communist ways. So, on this Gelernter and Evans agree.

Interestingly, while Trump himself is extremely sympathetic to Jews (much of his team, and, indeed, his extended family, is Jewish), his supporters have a certain tendency toward anti-semitism (nationalism is  anti-globalism, and Jews are traditionally viewed as espousing globalism [in Stalin’s time, they were branded rootless cosmopolitans, and this has now been resurrected by the alt-right movement). As a member of the Chosen People myself, I am, of course, somewhat troubled by this phenomenon, but it is my hope that getting these sentiments out in the open will normalize the situation.

 

Here is hoping.