Alaska Rep Don Young should probably shut his big mouth. Politico:
Young upset some at Wasilla High School during his appearance at an assembly with his remarks about suicide — just five days after a student had taken his own life, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. Asked about suicide, Young said it is often due to poor assistance from family and friends.
The Wasilla school’s principal told the newspaper about Young’s comments, “When I heard ‘a lack of support from family’ and I heard ‘a lack of support from friends,’ I felt the oxygen go out of the room, but I gasped as well. It just isn’t true in these situations. It’s just such a hurtful thing to say.”
The next day, Young defended his comments while addressing a group at a senior center.
“This suicide problem didn’t exist until we got largesse from the government,” Young said at Alaska’s Mat-Su Senior Center, according to audio obtained by the campaign of his Democratic challenger, Forrest Dunbar.
Oh dear. Well I don't know the breakdown by status as a recipient of "government largesse," but if racial and ethnic data are loosely correlated with government largesse, then the rates are all over the map. White Americans have among the highest suicide rates, while black Americans rank on the low side. Hispanics are also on the low side and Asians-Americans are low. Native American Indians have very high rates and my guess would be that holds true for Native Alaskans. All of that is now. Who knows what will happen in the future?
Suicide rates also tend to be higher in areas where gun ownership is high. And rates tend to rise as you move south and west geographically, while greater religious affiliation is associated with lower rates of suicide. Being male and older is also bad news. High rate of alcohol consumption is unhelpful, but suicide rates rose precipitously with the beginning of prohibition and dropped just as quickly when prohibition was repealed. Perhaps the rate of consumption rose as a result of prohibition or maybe changing consumption patterns and type of alcohol consumed had an effect.
There are all sorts of correlations and possible direct and indirect explanations behind these correlations. But government largesse? Seems like nothing more than the ignorant blathering of someone who only knows the world through his political funhouse of a mind.
And about suicide being something that didn't start until there was all this government largesse... a couple of graphs. The first adjusts for the effects of changing age demographics. The second graph is the overall rate absent demographic adjustment. Rates have risen in the last few years not covered in these graphs, but this may be due to any number of factors, including a serious spike in joblessness. One thing is for sure; suicide isn't something new.