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[Commentary] © 2001 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire™, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080

Work-Related Suicides in 2001

12/08/2001  1 suicide story, 3 suicides, so far -

12/07/2001  1 suicide story - 11/19/2001  1 suicide story this weekend - 10/01/2001  1 work-related suicide - 9/11/2001  1 work-related suicide - 7/21/2001  1 work-related suicide story - 7/12/2001  1 work-related suicide story - 6/24/2001  1 work-related suicide story this weekend - 6/17/2001  1 work-related suicide story - 5/24/2001  1 work-related suicide - 5/03/2001  Suicide prevention campaign is unveiled, Reuters via NYT, A18.
WASHINGTON...- The surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, started a national campaign today to combat suicide, the 8th-leading cause of death among Americans.... More than 30,000 Americans take their lives annually, amounting to more than three suicides for every two murders, and more than 650,000 Americans attempt suicide annually....
The plan recommends suicide prevention programs based in the community that build life skills and community support - factors known to reduce the risk of suicide. Dr. Satcher said he would seek to improve suicide prevention education and training for health care professionals, members of the clergy, teachers and others to help them better recognize those at risk....
[As the Age of Ecology matures, our population impact on the environment builds and our emphasis shifts from quantity to quality of human life, we will gradually stop our insecure campaigns to pressure people to stay alive, and simply facilitate well-considered decisions. You either love life or you don't. You either love your life or you don't. Love it or leave it, but quit poking your wrists and sitting on the fence.]

5/01/2001  1 more work-prep related suicide story (i.e., education-related) -

2/06/2001  1 work-preparation related suicide story (i.e., education-related) - 2/06/2001  1 work-related murder-suicide - 1/16/2001  2 work-related murder-suicide stories -
  1. Stopping workplace violence, opinion by Michael Rosen of Foley Hoag & Eliot, Boston Globe, D4.
    ...Homicide is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an average of 20 workers a week are murdered and 18,000 assaulted....
    [Michael has a string of bandaid suggestions to address the symptomatic level of this problem. We have a fundamental cure. Begin with the realization that we have soooo much worksaving technology, there is no reason we should not ALL be living in heaven today - defined as working less and less for more and more money - if we applied the anything like the same level of design effort to our economic technology as we do to our computer technology. We're getting workplace violence because we've designed our economic technology to do the opposite - to make us gradually work more and more hours for less and less money. The clue to the solution? The problem always goes away in wartime. War removes working hours from the job market by removing people from the job market and sending them overseas. It acts like a giant Mexico exporting all its surplus workers to the United States. But there's a smarter and easier and less wasteful alternative - simply withdraw working hours from the job market by cutting the workweek and reducing everyone's share of market-demanded employment. It acts the same way. Spoiled employers squeal and whine same as they did during World Wars I and II as labor dried up and wages rose, but their vast hoards of wealth get spread around and general markets rise in compensation. We call it Timesizing.]

  2. Patient suicide brings therapists lasting pain, by Erica Goode, NYT, D1.
    [Maybe that's because they're starting from the wrong assumptions - the assumptions that they know best what's good for everybody all the time, and that suicide is always wrong, always a bad idea. But if we're not in control of our death, are we really in control of our life? The best developments in the 20th century gave people more control, regardless of those who said they couldn't handle it. The motorcar, the home telephone, the personal computer,... Maybe it's time we stopped patronizing the desperate. Maybe if we let those who want to die, die, we'll be left with a population more strongly commited to life and to progress for everyone, not just for the small group of astronomically wealthy at the top who "know better than we do what's good for us." Many sages have said some version of "Live each day as if it were your last, but plan as if you had forever." Some, like Castaneda's don Juan Mateus, have counselled taking death as our advisor - our own death. "Cuts the crap out of your life," said don Juan. (See Chapter 4 "Death Is an advisor" in Carlos Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan - The Lessons of Don Juan, 1972.) Maybe societies are like individual lives. Maybe many are committing suicide slowly and dishonestly, and taking others with them. Maybe our society will be more mature and responsible when it accepts that in some circumstances, people would lessen the damage to others' lives by doing it quick and clean. Are there dangers and risks on this path? Sure, there always are when we grow up a bit and take a bit more responsibility. But freedom has to be at least two-way, and the maximum freedom is present when the two ways are 180°-opposites - freedom from and freedom for. And if we aren't really free for a gentle, dignified, under-our-control death, maybe we aren't really free for a gentle, dignified, under-our-control life.]

1/10/2001  1 work-related murder-suicide stories - 1/02/2001  2 suicide stories -
  1. West battles to stem high suicide rates - 'We usually see a spike after the holidays. People tend to hold on for the holidays.' Bev Thurber, Larimer County Suicide Prevention Center, Colo., by Chryss Cada, NYT, front page.
    ...The suicide rate of 17.2 per 100,000 people [across] the states of New Mexico [17.1], Arizona [17.2], Colorado [15.4], Utah [16.0], Nevada [22.7 - and compare Alaska at 21.0], Idaho [16.4], Wyoming [18.1], and Montana [17.9] is nearly double the 9.6 rate in New England [despite Maine, 10th highest at 15.8 (Mass. is 47th at 8.2 and the one we're missing here so far of the top twelve states is Oregon, 9th at 16.0)]. And it puts the Mountain States on par with Russia, China, and Kazakhstan, which have the world's highest suicide rates..\.. For almost a century, the suicide rate in the Mountain States has been the highest in the country, as the region's isolation and a tradition of rugged individualism make a lethal combination....
    The period after the holidays is a particularly deadly time.... But factors leading to suicide are present year-round, nowhere more so than in the West, where health specialists say the problem has reached "epidemic" levels. ..."Suicide is what happens when people think they are out of options. And in the West, there are fewer options"..\..said Dr. John Fildes of the Las Vegas-based Suicide Prevention Center, which is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control....
    [You mean we taxpayers fund suicide prevention and we don't fund gun licensing?!? Isn't this like ordering warnings on cigarettes and subsidizing tobacco farming? But they don't mention guns or cigarettes in this article. Here are the factors, besides post-holiday let-down, that they mention -]

  2. [Much of graduate education falls into the realm more of makework-related rather than work-related, but here's an indication that the stress in the real workaday world leaks over into the ivory tower -]
    Grad student suicides spur big changes at Harvard chem labs, by Bella English, Boston Globe, D1.
    In August 1998...Paul Nghiem, a physician doing a post-doctoral fellowship in the [Harvard] chemistry department \sent an email to\ Dr. Ned Hallowell...a Boston-area psychiatrist who had just written a book about worry.... \It began,\ "Harvard needs you.... We have just on Friday suffered the loss of a young and talented graduate student, to suicide." There had been others, the memo continued: half a dozen in the past several years. "Clearly, this is a tragic and appalling concentration within a single department."... Since then..\..the head of the department, Jim Anderson, ...Hallowell, and Nghiem have met monthly to talk about [it]. The result is a department that has been transformed in both tangible and intangible ways. "There is a natural tendency to pathologize the victim of the suicide, rather than consider what might be amiss within the system where it took place," Hallowell says.
    [Ain't that the truth about unemployment, poverty, and crime as well.]
    "Thank God the system responded the way it did."
    [And if we're lucky, or smart, some of us will live to see the economic system responding by implementing timesizing instead of downsizing.]
    Career pressures
    Harvard's Mallinckrodt Laboratory, an imposing building on Oxford Street, produces some of the world's top chemists..\.. This prestigious department...has four Nobel laureates on its faculty and selects an elite of 35 students a year from around the world....
    [Some of big-name Harvard's graduate departments get taken over by small people with a lot of anger and perfectionism, and they proceed to "raise the bar" in that department to almost impossible levels. Harvard Linguistics in the 1960s got into this position and turned into an emotional slough, eclipsed as it was by MIT Linguistics with its world-renown Chomsky. They turned over control of the PhD comprehensive exam in descriptive linguistics to a graduate student who pushed people to take it as fast as possible and then flunked them repeatedly. It's a wonder there was just a string of dropouts there (including Phil Hyde, who transferred to Union Graduate School, and Brian Sinclair, the famed Ol' Sinc of Sat. morning's great "Hillbilly at Harvard" country music radio show on FM 95.3 - Brian got jobs in Harvard administration - campus police, HR...) instead of a string of suicides (but then, maybe there were suicides that were hushed up). The pressures of that first year in Harvard graduate linguistics were unbelievable, as the horrible truth gradually came out about the almost non-existent PhDs produced by the department in the previous 10 years. Spring of '69 shall forever be known as "Black Spring," capped by the death of Phil's wonderful English granny, Granny Hyde, in Toronto in June or July, and of course it didn't help that Phil had split up with his wife of 4 years, an overall 7-year relationship, in the fall of '68. The song that fall was Judy Collins singing Joni Mitchell's "I've looked at life from both sides now...."]

For earlier suicide stories, click on the desired date -

  • 2000 & previous.

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