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[Commentary] © 2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080
Work-Related Suicides from October to December, 2002
12/31/2002 partially economy-related suicides in the news -
12/28/2002 1 economy-related suicide story in the news -
- Suicide attempts defy record-keeping, by Tom Mooney, Providence Journal, B1.
Between April and August, rescue crews around the state [of Rhode Is.] responded to 134 suicide attempts....
[That's an average of 134/5= 27 a month, that we know about, in a small state.]
State law requires only that acute-care hospitals provide suicide-related statistics to the state DEpt. of Health. Consequently..\..says Denise Panichas, interim exec. director of The Samaritans, the state's only agency solely dedicated to suicide prevention...family doctors, psychiatrists, school counselors and other professionals treating people at risk aren't helping monitor the extent of the problem....
From Jan. through Sept. of this year, the [RI] hotline received 4,943 calls. Nearly twice as many men as women call the Samaritans, says Panichas. The reason: Men remain less willing to share their problems with friends and end up resorting to anonymous help.
[And the heat is still on many men to be the big breadwinner, and if they get downsized, they feel embarrassed, maybe ashamed, maybe even guilty.]
Of those 4,943 calls, half were from people who call the Samaritans every day "because they have no one else to reach out to," says Panichas. And about 2,200 other callers were so distraught that they couldn't talk and hung up....
[Or maybe some were just kids playing around, like the ones that call the hotline at Somerville Community Access TV every week.]
12/25/2002 1 work-related suicide-assistance in the news -
- Struggling in debt, sacrificing pride - Japanese bankruptcies hit a record as the economy keeps sliding, by Ken Belson, NYT, B1.
...Once almost inconceivable in a nation that places such a high value on savings, personal bankruptcies have risen to record numbers among the Japanese in response to a punishing economic squeeze caused by 5 consecutive years of falling wages and rising unemployment.
As their financial woes have worsened, many have turned first to legal lenders but then often to loan sharks who charge rapidly compounding interest rates. To try to escape this trap, about 320,000 people are expected to seek protection from creditors this year, up more than a third from 2001....
Declaring bankruptcy in Japan is still relatively uncommon, and Americans are four times as likely as Japanese to seek bankruptcy protection.... According to some estimates, as many as 2 million Japanese are effectively bankrupt, but have not or cannot file the paperwork required.
Even that does not convey the full extent of the financial stress in Japan. For despite encouragement from a government that is committed to making it cheaper and easier to file for bankruptcy, every year thousands of people in distress commit suicide, police statistics show, rather than face their debt collectors, friends and families in shame.
For those who do file, bankruptcy can restore some financial breathing room. But for those still in debt to illegal loan sharks, it does not always end the harassment. And few escape the personal trauma of some sort.... In this weak economy, low-wage workers and marginal business owners are being forced to dip deeply into their savings to pay their bills. The closing of a factory or a round of induced early retirements can push families to the brink. Finding new work at similar pay is difficult because most workers devote their entire career to one job, leaving them unprepared to find another. To make the payroll of a family business, many Japanese seek short-term, high-interest loans to tide them over and avoid the embarrassment of having to ask friends or relatives for money.... Consumer finance companies lend money at rates up to 29.2% - a ceiling set by the government - and borrowing 500,000 yen ($4,151) is as easy as going to an ATM.... Interest accumulates so quickly that debtors take out new loans to keep up with the previous payments due. When legitimate loan companies cut debtors off, loan sharks called yamikin can dole out fresh loans at rates of up to 10% a day [and they employ] strong-arm men...to chase down their money....
Some Japanese believe that suicide is an honorable way to repent for failing to meet obligations. Suicides have risen 47% in the last decade, though obviously not all are related to financial woes. Deaths directly attributed to the adverse economy have risen to more than 6,800 a year in that time from about 1,600, according to the National Police Agency, accounting for about half of the overall increase in suicides. The vast majority of these cases involve men 40 and older..\..
The police try to enforce the anti-usury laws. In the first half of 2002, 118 loan sharks who lent to more than 42,000 people were arrested. Estimates of the illegal loan market vary, but analysts say it easily exceeds 3% of the legal market in consumer loans, or about $3B.... A government panel is now deliberating over more ways to make it easier to declare bankruptcy, including speeding up the court process, easing some of the criteria and allowing people to refile for bankruptcy in less time. The government hopes that by helping ordinary workers to start over with fewer debts, they can spend more and help lift the economy....
[Great, so while Japan is easing bankruptcy laws to increase spending and lift the economy, Oily Bush Inc. is trying to toughen bankruptcy laws to toady to the lenders, but that will decrease spending and further depress the economy. But Japan's use of easier bankruptcy as a money centrifuge is far inferior to just spreading and sharing the vanishing work (and wages!) a la Timesizing.]
12/11/2002 1 work-related murder in the news -
- Dutch doctor loses euthanasia appeal, Reuters via NYT, A4.
[This one's related not to the work of the suicide but to the work of the assister.]
AMSTERDAM... - A Dutch doctor who helped a patient die lost his appeal today against a ruling that he had assisted suicide [supposedly bad] rather than committed euthanasia [not bad], which the Netherlands made legal last year. The doctor, who appealed the verdict to test the limits of the law, had helped a man to take his [own] life. The man suffered from incontinence, dizziness and immobility and said he was tired of life; but the court said his condition did not justify a mercy killing, which is legal only if the patient faces intolerable suffering.
[So now the court is going to dictate to people in pain if their suffering is "tolerable" or not. Wouldn't that be just about the most justifiably subjective call anyone could make, and subject to considerable variation? Does the court imagine that humans come with standardized pain thresholds?]
Dr. Sutorius received no jail sentence or fine because, the lower court ruled, he had acted out of compassion.
[Anyway, this mishigas should calm the qualms of those who think we should all suffer right to the end with never the benefit of the kind of coup de grace we offer to our animal friends.]
12/03/2002 1 work-related suicide in the news -
- Suspect held in priest killing reported fire in calm voice, by John Fountain, NYT, A29.
CLEVELAND - ...In an interview..\..William Mason, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor...said..\..Daniel Montgomery..\..a man in training to be a Franciscan brother...charged with murdering a Roman Catholic pastor [his supervisor??] and setting a fire at his rectory [St. Stanislaus, 3649 E. 65th St, where he worked] to cover up the crime...had been "disgruntled because he was being transferred from the Cleveland Diocese to a parish in Indiana"..\.. The Rev. William Gulas, 68, the pastor at St. Stanislaus...at first was thought to have died in the fire at his rectory. But in fact he was a victim of homicide, the county coroner later determined. The authorities said he had suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest, as well as a wound of a different type to the head, before his body was burned in the fire.
On Monday, Mr. Montgomery was charged with aggravated murder and aggravated arson..\.. The 37-year-old Mr. Montgomery appeared [Tuesday (yesterday)] morning in Cleveland Municipal Court....
[As Machiavelli would observe, the instability of Roman Catholicism in America makes it less and less useful as social cement. Do long working hours have anything to do with this event? The problem with religious "callings" is ... lack of boundaries. Yesterday's story -]
Cleveland seminarian is held in rectory killing and arson, by John Fountain, 12/10/2002 NYT, A18.
...The Rev. Tom Luczak, a provincial minister of the Franciscan Friars, said that shortly before Thanksgiving Mr. Montgomery was told that his job performance was unsatisfactory and that he would have to leave the church and end his training....
11/29/2002 work (or lack of work) related suicide in the news -
- In suicide's wake, pointer summary (to B9), WSJ, front page.
A software company's CEO kills himself. The interim chief [Thomas Hiatt] sits behind the dead man's desk, ponders his predecessor's life and wonders how to go on.
Software firm copes with CEO's suicide - Former leader's mark remains as company moves toward success, by Jeff Bailey, WSJ, B9.
...On April 29...the architect of..\..Powerway Inc.'s...strategy [of selling] the Big Three automakers on an industrywide Internet system to track the quality performancee of parts makers...Chairman and CEO Michael Campbell, committed suicide. Found dead in his garaged car from carbon-monoxide poisoning, Mr. Campbell, 50 years old, left behind a company on the cusp of success, but one that now would have to achieve that success amid considerable grief....
11/26/2002 unintentional? work-related suicide-murder in the news -
- Study links rural suicides in China to stress and ready poisons, by Elisabeth Rosenthal, NYT, A8.
Just as Beijing prepares to open its first government-sponsored suicide prevention center...the Beijing Suicide Research & Prevention Center...financed by the Beijing city government..\..a new study about suicide in China paints a grim picture of a large and unaddressed public health problem.
In a study being released this week in The Lancet, researchers working in China...blame...the ready availability of lethal pesticides and rodent poisons...in rural homes [which] ma[k]e "self-poisoning an option for people who are experiencing acute and chronic stress," \according to\ the study's authors, Dr. Michael Phillips and Dr. Zhang Yanping.... Of 519 suicides the researchers looked at,
- China has one of the highest suicide rates in the world....
- It is the only country where suicides among women outnumber those among men,
[If China (and India and Africa) keep dissing females (eg: by selectively aborting female foetuses), they're going to have a lot of very nervous, angry and frustrated males.]
- and one of the few where rural suicides outnumber urban suicides. ...In the countryside...suicide rates are 3 times as high \as\ in the cities..\..
[Slow though it is, it seems China's transition from micromanaging socialism to our primitive downsizing (not timesizing) form of capitalism was not slow enough.]
- ...Depression and suicide have become an increasing concern in China's cities, as its citizens cope with the stress of displacement and change in their rapidly developing society..\..
["Developing" or "deteriorating"? China has had massive downsizing of state-owned and formerly state-owned companies, giving people, especially in rural areas, no way of making a living. Set up the right conditions and your country too can jump up its suicide rate.]
In previous papers, Dr. Phillips, a psychiatrist at the Huilongguan Hospital in Beijing, has estimated that 287,000 Chinese kill themselves each year, making it the 5th-largest cause of death in the country....
- 62% were accomplished by drinking pesticides or rat poison, [where] the physical symptoms, like labored breathing, come on quickly and are hard to treat in small rural hospitals..\..
- 20% were by hanging
- and the rest by a variety of other methods....
[Compare India -]
India slips far behind China, once its close economic rival, by Keith Bradsher, NYT, front page.
...India, despite democracy, has fallen behind China, a one-party state struggling with the aftermath of Communist economic policies.... India's continued backwardness compared with its neighbor across the Himalayas has become a national obsession.
[But how's India's suicide rate??]
The world's 2 most populous countries, China and India were close economic rivals just 2 decades ago, each struggling to bring progress to vast numbers of impoverished peasants. But now China, by quickly converting much of its economy to an unfettered and even rapacious version of capitalism, has surged far "ahead" [our quotes - ed.]. The average Chinese citizen now earns $890 a year, compared with $460 for the typical Indian, according to the World Bank.
[Not necessarily meaningful. For example, maybe ten Chinese citizens earn $890,000,000 a year and the rest earn $89, while all Indians earn $460 a year. Look at the wonderful marvelous kick-ass "richest country" USA - Bill Gates has $50,000,000,000 or more and there are 5,400,000 Americans on disability, 2,100,000 in prison, and uncounted numbers on the streets, not to mention all those forced into early retirement on a shoestring or into part-time jobs with no benefits. China has nothing to imitate in practice, nor do we in the U.S. The only shred of intelligent economic design in this insult-to-intelligence excuse for a global economy is Timesizing. We hunched it would be this way. Back in the early 1970s we felt that both capitalist and socialist economic models SUCKED, and if we wanted something that was not an insult to intelligent lifeforms throughout the galaxy, we'd have to design it ourselves. And to our surprise and relief, it turned out quite well, if we say so ourselves. It maximizes the supreme variable of all time, variability itself. And it is no One Step to Perfection. It provides for rising expectations and continuing improvement. Once the too-easily satisfied plutocrats who run this planet wake up to their power, Timesizing and its successor balancing-systems will deliver optional (im)mortality by the beginning of the next millennium, something that current forms of neither capitalism nor socialism can deliver, because they need and critically rely on death too strongly. They just do not produce flexible enough, creative enough people. Look at the disgraceful "leadership" we're saddled with in the U.S. - Cardinal Law (pimp for pederasts), Trent Lott (racist), creationists (just wave that wand once a day for 6 days).... Death was designed for dopes like this, just to clear them away and give the rest of us a chance at a new deal, and we aren't referring to the stupid makework and micromanagement with which FDR blocked real worksharing in 1933, thereby failing to solve the Great Depression until World War II galvanized the kind of worksharing that boosted the economy for a whole generation - but galvanized it with ... death.]
11/22/2002 work-related murder in the news -
- When the eyelids snap shut at 65 miles an hour, by Jane Brody, NYT, D1.
...According to estimates by a group of international transportation safety experts, as many as 1.2m accidents each year in this country [USA] - about 20% of the total - are related to driver fatigue.... 40% of fatal crashes on the NY State Thruway in recent years have been attributed to drowsy, fatigued drivers who drifted off the road, according to traffic experts. Accidents involving sleeping drivers are especially likely to be deadly because they offer no opportunities for braking or efforts to avert collisions.
...The National Sleep Foundation...organize[d] a 2-day conference, held last week..., the National Summit to Prevent Drowsy Driving, held in Washington DC at the National Academy of Sciences..\.. At the gathering..\..James E. Hall, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board...called drowsy driving "a silent killer".... The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees commercial vehicles, are struggling with ways to curb it....
Various companies have produced more than 100 devices to detect drowsy driving...said Dr. Mark Rosekind...president of Alertness Solutions.... A major problem with most of the gadgets, he said, is how people get around them, sometimes unwittingly. For example, with a device that fits over the ear and sets off an alarm when the driver's head tilts downward, drivers may soon adapt and "learn" to fall asleep without tilting their heads. Truckers have been seen on the road sitting straight up with closed eyes and their heads against the backs of their seats....
[Another article gives another lethal adaptation example -]
Dark side of holidays: Sleep-deprived drivers, by Jane Brody, NYT, D6.
...If you ordinarily consume lots of caffeine, you may be [immune to] its stimulant effect.
[And another lethal trucker example -]
..\..At 60 miles an hour, in just a 3-second dose, you will travel the length of a football field - far enough to run off the road or crash into a barricade or another vehicle. Just such an accident killed a young woman and her 5 passengers when a trucker traveling at 65 mph fell asleep and struck her stationwagon. The trucker, who also died in the crash, had routinely cheated on his log and had been driving for 20 hours before the accident occurred.
What to do
First and foremost, stop cheating on your sleep. Before starting out on a trip, be sure to get a full night's sleep. Plan ahead so that you're not up late getting ready to leave....
[Back to the "eyelids" article -]
At last week's conference...Dr. David Dinges, an expert on sleep and body clocks from the University of Pennsy. School of Medicine, said...to date...the device that has proved most reliable in tests is an infrared gadget...developed at Carnegie Mellon University..\..that detects slowly drooping eyelids. [But] the head-droop sensor...cannot tell the difference between a driver who is falling asleep [and] one who is changing the radio dial.... Also being used in some trucks is a tracking system that can detect lane deviations - when the vehicle has drifted off the tire tracks worn into the roadway..\..said Col. Gregory Belenky, a doctor in the Army Medical Corps and an expert on sleep deprivation....
The problem, Dr. Dinges said, is finding something that works for everybody, or nearly everybody, in nearly every situation.
[How about shorter working hours and more sleep?! Leaving it to naps on the road is also now having a problem -]
A recent study of truck stops revealed 24,000 too few slots for trucks, and the number of trucks on the road continues to increase, Dr. Dinges said. At some truck stops, officers routinely waken drivers and tell them to move on to make room for more trucks..\..
[Aside from the crashing timesizing violations made by long-distance truckers, and the massive inefficiency of unlimited numbers of huge trucks carrying the nation's freight instead of dedicated-roadbed myriad-car freight trains, trucking is another example of huge private-sector makework in our current downsizing, not timesizing type of capitalism. See item #12 on our realms of modern makework page.]
11/20/2002 work-related murder & suicide in the news -
- Monaco: Trial in billionaire's death starts, by John Tagliabue, NYT, A10.
An American nurse, Ted Maher, went on trial on charges of setting a fire that killed the reclusive billionaire banker Edmond Safra in 1999. Mr. Safra and another nurse suffocated as smoke from the fire filled his 20-room penthouse. Mr. Maher originally said two hooded men had broken into the building, stabbed him and set the fire. He later confessed to setting the fire and stabbing himself in an effort to win praise for rescuing Mr. Safra. But Mr. Safra, terrified of intruders, refused to be coaxed from a bathroom where he had taken refuge, and suffocated.
11/12/2002 work-related suicide in the news -
- Man guilty in massacre at Wendy's [Restaurant] - Death penalty possible in murder convictions, by Sarah Kershaw, NYT, A23.
2½ years after a massacre...in Queens, the man accused of staging the execution-style killings in a walk-in refrigerator was found guilty on all counts.... Starting today, the jurors will begin to decide whether to sentence the 38-year-old man, John B. Taylor, to death. After deliberating for 11 hours over 2 days, the jury convicted him of killing 2 bound and gagged workers, then commanding his mentally retarded accomplice [Craig Godineaux] to kill five others in the restaurant's basement. Five of the workers died; two survived.... Mr. Taylor's defense lawyers, of the Capital Defender Office, said he admitted killing one victim, a Wendy's assistant manager, Jean Dumel Auguste...who was his former boss....
That murder is punishable by death under state law because it occurred during the commission of a felony - a robbery - Mr. Taylor and his accomplice fled with more than $2,400 from Wendy's....
Jury sentences killer to death for massacre of 5 at Wendy's - Victims' relatives seem relieved as decision is read, by Sarah Kershaw & Marc Santora, 11/27/2002 NYT, A20.
- Fall from plane kills NASA theft suspect, AP via NYT, A14.
Waller, Tex...- A man who was suspected of stealing NASA technology apparently jumped to his death from a small plane at 9,000 feet on Sunday.... His body was found in a field outside Waller, northwest of Houston.... The search for the man, Russell Filler, a 47-year-old engineer for a NASA space station contractor, began on Sunday when he was reported to have left the plane in midair.... The authorities said Mr. Filler apparently opened the cockpit door and unfastened his seat belt on Sunday afternoon when the instructor with him looked away. Mr. Filler's last request was to have the plane bank sharply to the left, possibly to make it easier to jump..\.. Mr. Filler was contacted by federal investigators on Thursday after they traced to his home a NASA-owned laptop computer that disappeared on Oct. 25. The laptop did not contain any sensitive information, officials said.
[But then, they'd probably say that anyway.]
On Sunday, Mr. Filler went to Hooks Airport in Spring, a Houston suburb, saying he needed more hours to renew his pilot's license....
11/02/2002 work-related mass suicide in the news -
- Jobs rank low as risk factors for suicide, by Erica Goode, NYT, D1.
...Dr. Ronald Maris, a forensic suicide expert in Columbia, SC, said he had compiled a list of 15 major suicide predictors. "And none of them concerns occupation," he said.
[But betcha most of them concern stress, and as the global economy sinks pumps out more work-saving technology, lays off more of its consumers, consolidates more of its spending power in unspendable megahoards, and strangles itself, stress reaches more and more occupations.]
...There is no national database of suicide by job category and occupation is not listed on death certificates in most cases....
[So wouldn't that mean that we've been in such denial on this whole subject for so long that we are hardly in a position to make any reliable conclusions whatsoever, duh?! This is similar to our reaction to homelessness - no data collection.]
Most studies examine suicides only in one city or region. Others look at rates only over a few years or neglect to take account of demographic differences in suicide rates. For example, said Dr. David Clark, the director of the Center for Suicide Research and Prevention at the Rush-Presbyterian-St.Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, some studies have compared suicide rates for workers in a specific city to the suicide rate for all Americans....
[This article seems to be motivated by the desire of specific occupations, such as police and dentists and doctors, to cast off their 'bad wrap' for higher suicide proneness. So most of this article is non-news, including a whole paragraph devoted to telling us that a NYC police spokeswoman had not seen a certain study and so could not comment on it. Thanks for wasting the space. This article is mostly going around listing various studies and calling them into question or killing them with a thousand qualifications - which method, if universally applied, would mean we couldn't know anything about anything. For example -]
A group of suicide experts who recently reviewed some 2 doz. studies of doctors found that overall their rate of suicide was only slightly higher than the general population. But there was strong evidence that women who were doctors were significantly more likely than other professional women to kill themselves.
[Watch. Now women doctors are going to come out with a study that 'invalidates' that scurrilous slander. Meanwhile, the article focuses on "de-sliming" NYC police -]
...A new study...to be published next month in The American Journal of Psychiatry \by lead author\ Dr. Peter Marzuk, a psychiatrist and assoc. dean at Weill Medical College of Cornell University [and] Dr. Andrew Leon, an associate professor of biostatistics at Cornell and another author \indicates that NYC\ police officers...are actually no more likely to commit suicide than other New Yorkers....
[Lordy, more than anything else, this article is remarkable for the bizarre anathema in western cultures, USA in particular, about suicide. "Don't SLIME us - regardless of 'data'!!!" seems to be the overwhelming general message. In short, this whole article is undermined by an intense emotional reaction - a major cultural, and political, taboo.]
The researchers reviewed the death certificates for all police officers who had died during the 20 years covered by the study [themselves a highly culturally 'blind-spotted' source - ed.]. In one analysis of the data, they included only the 80 deaths that had been certified as suicides. In a second analysis, they also included 22 deaths that were not listed as suicides but involved hanging, the use of firearms, carbon monoxide poisoning or other typical suicide methods.
[Now, we suppose, the rope makers, gun companies and CO producers are going to fund studies to disassociate themselves from this yukky taboo.]
Even when these "possible suicides" were included, Dr. Marzuk and his colleagues found, the rate for the police officers, 19.0 suicides per 100,000 people per year, was not significantly higher than the 18.3 suicides per 100,000 people per year found for other city residents of comparable sex, age and race....
[Well, maybe Americans' cultural "tuning" is so sensitive on this subject that a 0.7 difference per 100,000 IS a perceptible and significant difference, just as we're a lot more sensitive to temperature fluctuations around 68°F than other ranges. Let's get back to some big figures.]
In 2000, there were 10.7 suicides per year for every 100,000 Americans; the rate has been dropping for a decade.
[Yeah, what a coincidence! This was a decade when American politics drifted to the right where reside the angry white males who are in denial about a LOT of problems.]
The rates in the study were higher because they reflected the fact that the police officers were mostly white and male, two characteristics associated with higher rates of suicide.
[Wait a minute! Didn't they just say above that women were associated with higher rates of suicide?! - or was that just professional women.... This whole topic is so clouded by "not in my backyard"-ism that we'll probably have to leave it to visiting aliens to handle for us babies. Here's another doozy -]
...Women on the force had a higher rate of suicide than other women living in New York - about 4 times as high. But Dr. Marzuk said the meaning of this finding was unclear because both the number of women serving as police officers and the number of suicides were small.
[So basically, we have a whole article about "what is unclear." We feared as much from the headline, and our misgivings intensified when we say the number of "researchers" in psychiatry, ever a field anxious to justify its existence. Maybe we can cut short these exercises in futility in future.]
...The study's results underscore that the most robust predictors of suicide probably lie outside of what someone does for a living. In his list of major suicide predictors, for example, Dr. Maris of SC includes factors like
[Reminds us of a previous generalization we used in sorting out life - our problems, er, "'challenges," were related to either Sex, Money, or Purpose. And money and purpose tended to be linked. And we tended to try to get sex linked in with the other two so we'd tie up with a person of the opposite sex who helped the other two along instead of impeding them.]
[but maybe that's job-related...]
- prior suicide attempts,
[phew, that just pushes the question back one step]
- alcohol abuse
[again begging the prior question = is it relational or occupational or both?]
- and divorce.
...After a series of highly publicized suicides at MIT, the university was criticized for having the highest suicide rate in the nation.
[Oh oh, now we're getting into legal liability and vulnerability to lawsuits in this record-breakingly litigious nation where nobody want anything bad to happen to them - but doesn't give a damn about anyone else.]
But Dr. Herbert Hendin, the medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention...
[we'd prefer a more neutral foundation, such as an American Foundation for Appropriate Suicide, and yes, we're great admirers of Jack Kevorkian, we do believe that there is such a thing as appropriate suicide, and we do believe that Americans should be using it a lot more often than their overall terror and denial of death and their inability to say goodbye gracefully allows them - a foundation for suicide prevention starts from a skewed perception and a huge bias right at the outset, never a good start for any wannabe "scientific" research]
...said this conclusion did not take into account the fact that MIT had a higher proportion than other institutions of male students and older students, both groups with higher suicide rates than other college students in general.
[But we're not talking about other college students in general here, are we. We're talking about technical universities. How come we haven't been hearing about CalTech, or WPI, or Ryerson in Toronto? Are they just better at hushing up suicide or doctoring death certificates?]
"If you controlled for all the other variables, there was no evidence that it was higher," Dr. Hendin said.
[Buddy, if you controlled for ALL the variables, there'd be no evidence of ANYthing. We can't wait for perfect information. We've got to make decisions in the present, not the in(de)finite future. Dr. Hendin has evidently been retained by MIT to do damage control, or maybe he has a kid studying there or studied there himself. "Not in my backyard!" Same with economists who are always slurring shorter-hours advocates for their so-called Lump of Labor Fallacy. The big reason it's supposedly false is economists' contention that the supply of employment in unlimited in the indefinite future. But again, we're not living in the 'indefinite future.' We're living here and now when thousands of people are getting downsized, and we should be SUING mainstream economists for collecting salaries year after year, decade after decade, and doing NOTHING about the widespread downsizing and in fact usually reinforcing it. Decades roll by ... these morons get millions of dollars in Nobel Prizes ... and make zero contribution to human progress. They spin their wheels merely describing (and by implication, reinforcing) the plutocrats' partial view of reality. How long will humanity be held back by their buzz? And the same with these equivocating (except about their own importance and wage-worthiness) psychiatrists. Ya know, if we humans spent half the time just accepting the obvious and building on it, instead of denying it, we'd have a lot more big-problem solution going on, instead of dragging on year after year with the same old chestnuts = unemployment, poverty, starvation, crime....]
10/29/2002 work-related murder-suicide in the news -
- Coping with broken promises - As many suffer in China's transition, party to get new chief, by Indira Lakshmanan, Boston Globe, front page, flagged by Colleague Kate.
YANCHENG, China - After eight months of pleading in vain for old-age pensions and health insurance, desperate factory workers who had been forced into early retirement tried to jump off the top of their company's nine-storey building and drag the factory's manager and Communist Party boss with them. Other protesters intervened and foiled the July 23 suicide-homicide attempt at Yanwu Electric Appliance Co. in this eastern Chinese city. But angry workers at other failing state-owned factories elsewhere in China have made good on such threats, killing several factory bosses in the last year.
At Yanwu Electric, "we had nothing more to lose," said Song Qing'e, 39, a laid-off accountant. "I was a lifelong employee of that company, and now I have nothing to live on." She drank a potentially lethal dose of pesticide on Aug. 21 in front of the Yancheng government offices when city officials refused to meet the protesters. Her stomach was pumped, and she recovered.
[So they come up with ad hoc emergency medical attention - but not health insurance.]
Months later, her hand still trembled as she recalled the employees' efforts, which were hushed up by authorities and went unreported by the state-controlled press. "I can't change anything," Song said. "I have no influence. Why don't you ask Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin about the situation of Chinese workers?" Jiang is expected to retire from the Party leadership at the 16th National Congress...which begins Friday. The change...coincides with increasing public agitation over the fact that two decades of market "reforms" [our quotes - ed.] have enriched many Chinese, but have left many more behind.
[How long are humans going to remain stupidly ricocheting between too many controls and no controls? The alternative is a well-designed single control, a new groundrule that balances the free market, maintains maximum participation in it and prevents its capture and strangulation by a minority of super-rich.]
...Social pressures are building as the fissures and fractures in Chinese society deepen:
...The attempted suicide protest by laid-off workers in Yancheng was small by comparison to the tens of thousands who have rallied in the northeast, but it was unusual for its extreme nature and because it occurred in eastern Jiangsu Province, one of China's richest [and] just 200 miles from the glittering prosperity of Shanghai. [Yancheng is a] city of 7 million with...small but shiny new downtown and vast, derelict outskirts lined with shuttered state factories. [It] exemplifies the contradictions of modern China....
- between rich and poor,
- cities and rural areas,
- coastal regions and the interior,
- the Han majority and ethnic minorities,
- between haves and have nots.
A popular saying describes [Ms.] Song and tens of millions of other middle-aged state workers who were guaranteed lifetime employment before their companies were allowed to fail: "They dedicated their youth to the Party, but no one takes care of them when they are old. They try to depend on their children, but their children are jobless."
[Where now are all the mainstream western economists and their preachments against the Lump of Labor "Fallacy" and the "silly" idea that technology destroys more jobs than it creates? Where are these dismissers of work sharing despite its success at halving the workweek and multiplying wages between 1776 and 1940? Where are these shouters of "communism!" and "socialism!" despite what's happening in "socialist" China in 2002 AD and the Fourth Commandment of Moses in 1400 BC ("Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh is the Sabbath....")?]
Song...is philosophical about the communist ideals that were touted in her youth and the drastic changes she has lived through since then. "I don't think [privatization] is wrong," she said. "At a state-owned enterprise, whether you did more work or less, you were paid the same, so I understand why they changed the system." But after working 21 years, Song said, it is hard to accept a one-time, $468 severance package with none of the pension and insurance that state workers were promised....
[But it wouldn't be so hard if there were plenty of jobs and on-the-job training programs for her to move on to, and that's what flexible work-sharing programs - at the city, province or economywide level - would provide.]
10/21/2002 work-related suicide in the news -
- 4 die in Arizona shooting rampage, pointer blowout (to A18), NYT, front page.
A gunman shot 3 instructors to death yesterday at the University of Arizona nursing school in Tucson and then killed himself, the police said.... [photo caption]
[from target article by John Broder -]
...The police identified the gunman as Robert S. Flores Jr., 41, a student at the nursing school. College officials said he was failing his course work, and fellow students described him as belligerent and potentially dangerous. A school staff member raised an alarm about him more than a year ago, saying he was depressed and capable of violence, but there had been no follow-up action taken, the chief of the university's police force...Richard Miranda...said....
[Usually everyone's complaining that the killer is so normal looking. Here's one that practically had a neon sign and STILL "no follow-up action taken"! "Ah c'mon," sez you, "Timesizing wouldn't averted this tragedy." You're telling us that better work-life balance wouldn't have made all this less likely? Less pressure at school? More free time to get your head together, which poor students could use to catch up and good students could use to goof off?!]
Arizona gunman chose victims in advance - Arriving at the university armed with 5 handguns and 200 rounds, by John Broder, 10/30/2002 NYT, A16.
[There's a growing addendum to the NRA's chant about "when ordinary citizens can't have guns, only criminals will have guns" - namely, only criminals plus ordinary citizens affected by mental illness, who seem to be increasing (and possibly also just ordinary citizens experiencing great anger, who seem to be increasing). Hey, the NRA is helping population control in the most powerful and dangerous nation on the planet - though not perhaps in the most intelligent way.]
10/17/2002 work-related suicide in the news -
- Program to prevent college students' suicides, letter to editor by CEO Mike Faenza of National Mental Health Assoc of Alexandria VA & Pres. Phillip Satow of Jed Foundation of NYC, WSJ, A15.
...The suicide rate for 15-to-20-year-olds has tripled in the past 60 years, with nearly 1,100 suicides projected on [US] college campuses annually. It is critical that we do everything we can to fund and implement campus-based programs....
[By not implementing flexible adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment, we have necessitated the huge makework program (see makework 'realm' #19) that is post-secondary education to keep jobseekers out of the job market as long as possible, and we have given them little to look forward to in the workforce except long hours and low pay. Plus colleague Kate points out, 60 years ago college was still primarily for the elite. On the other hand, the GI Bill swooshed in a lot of the middle class, but on the other other hand, most of the World War 2 GI's were no longer teenagers and as prone to potentially suicidal hormonal storms. Plus if they were going to "off" themselves, they had plenty of opportunity during the war, so they were a kind of self-selected committed-to-life group. Plus WW2, unlike Vietnam, was a war that the public generally backed, and the GIs, unlike Nam vets, were generally honored when they came back.]
10/09/2002 work-related suicide in the news -
- Canada - Hostage-taker is said to kill 2, then himself, AP via Boston Globe, A12.
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A provincial government worker who lost his job returned to his office with a gun, seized hostages, and apparently killed two men before shooting himself to death, police said yesterday.
[Assuming this was a layoff and not an individual firing for cause, timesizing instead of downsizing and the Timesizing full-employment program could definitely have saved this situation.]
The armed man held four people hostage for several hours Tuesday and was later found dead along with two others, the [RCMP] Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. Two hostages were unhurt....
10/07/2002 work-related murder in the news -
- Waiting for Prozac - Drug firms push Japan to change view of depression - Once-taboo illness is dubbed 'the soul catching a cold'; Big market for new pills - A TV star saved from suicide, by Peter Landers, WSJ, front page.
...Producer Kenichiro Takiguchi persuaded his bosses to air a 50-minute prime-time special portraying depression as a treatable disease rather than a character flaw. Millions watched, and more than 2,000 viewers called in afterward to thank the network.... Japan's attitude toward mental illness...offers an insight into the country's culture. As the nation plunged into deep economic slump in the late 1990's, widespread bankruptcies and layoffs contributed to an increasing divorce rate and a suicide rate that is now double that of the U.S....
[Late 1990s??? How about early 1990s! Anyway, Kyodo News brings us a specific example -]
1998 suicide of Sendai man recognized as work-related death, Kyodo 10/08/02 03:06 EDT via AOLNews.
SENDAI... - Labor standard inspectors in Miyagi Prefecture have recognized the 1998 suicide of a construction company employee as being due to overwork and therefore a work-related death, lawyers for the man's family said Tuesday. One of the lawyers for the kin of the 52-year-old man, who simultaneously headed three construction sites of Osaka-based Konoike Construction Co., said it is rare for a suicide induced by overwork and committed by someone in a managerial post to be recognized as an industrial accident.
According to the lawyers, the man joined Konoike Construction in 1964 and from May 1997 until the time of his death held the executive posts simultaneously at three places, including a road construction site in Furukawa, Miyagi Prefecture. They said that because of a labor shortage, the man, a resident of Sendai, reported to work at 7 a.m. and stayed up as late as midnight, and also worked during his rest days. Faced with problems which isolated him from his colleagues and subordinates, his health was affected in December 1997 and he fell into depression. In January 1998, he killed himself in a park near the site in Furukawa in the northeastern Japan prefecture by gassing himself.
His family sued the firm for about 100 million yen in damages, alleging that the suicide was caused by frequent long hours of work. In May last year, Konoike Construction agreed to pay the family 30 million yen. The company also helped in applying to the Labor Standards Inspection Office in Furukawa for recognition of the workmen's compensation insurance, which entitles the family to his pension, among other benefits.
10/03/2002 work-related war, murder & suicide in the news -
- Shore leave turns fatal for sailor out on the town - Shipmates' fight cited in midtown plunge, by Gootman & Baker, NYT, A20.
...Brian Cooley...four years ago enlist[ed] in the Navy..\.. Lisa Tedstone...shortly before 9/11  joined the Navy.... They met on board the amphibious assault ship Wasp...and traveled to the Middle East to shuttle marines and equipment to and from Afghanistan after 9/11....
But on Friday night...a carousing evening of liberty on the town in Manhattan turned sinister. After hours spent in bars and walking the streets on a warm autumn night, Petty Officer Cooley and Sea[wo]man Tedstone argued in a 6th-floor room at a Midtown hotel. Then, the authorities said, he shoved her to her death through an open window....
Petty Officer Cooley was charged yesterday with 2nd-degree man-slaughter, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Meanwhile his friends and relatives and those of Seaman Tedstone gasped at the reported details of the death, and at the arrest....
[Would this one have been avoided by more free time? Who knows. Maybe more free time would have given them both the chance to get more of a life outside the Navy than the Bottle. Or is this a simple case of "don't get romantically involved with a co-worker"?]
10/01/2002 work-related suicide in the news -
- [we hold that most of this is related to our backwardness in the technology of sharing -]
War, murder and suicide: A year's toll is 1.6 million, by Sheryl Stolberg, NYT, A12.
Violence kills more that 1.6m people each year, and suicide claims almost as many lives as war and homicide combined, according to a new report by the World Health Organization that experts say is the first compehensive documentation of the problem of global violence. The 346-page report, to be released Thursday in Brussels by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the director general of the health organization, reviews thousands of studies to catalog homicide, suicide and armed conflict, as well as violence against, women, the elderly and children. It found that violence accounts for 14% of all deaths among men, and 7% among women....
[We suspect the vast majority of this problem is work-related.]
Violence, the study found, is tied to income; the vast majority of violence-related deaths occurred in low-income countries....
[And here's a warning for our pygmy-brained pResident -]
Violence, particularly war, seems to beget more violence, the study found....
The report's main premise - that violence can be studied as a health problem and prevented in much the same way as a disease - is not new.
[Or as Bucky Fuller would put it, it's a design problem.]
It originated at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, in Atlanta, which in 1983 opened a violence epidemiology branch to track patterns of violence - a move that was regarded as strange at the time....
[Very lovely, but Bucky Fuller was talking about redesigning the problems out of the world, especially war, back in the 40s and 50s - he embodied it all in his *World Game idea.]
[The Journal version of this Times story is -]
Study finds violence took 1.6m lives in 2000, by Rachel Zimmerman, WSJ, D5.
- Senegal conceded overloading, summary squib, WSJ, front page.
...was a factor in last week's ferry sinking that killed nearly 1,000. A German newspaper said there were twice as many on board as should have been.
[And the Times' version -]
Looking for the dead from Senegal ferry, photo caption, NYT, A3.
A woman was overcome with emotion at the Dakar city hall yesterday after viewing pictures of dead passengers from the Senegalese ferry Joola, which capsized Thursday off the coast of Gambia. The toll of dead or missing was put at 970; only 64 people are know to have survived. The ferry was carrying almost twice as many passengers as its capacity of 550, and the government promised an investigation.
[So the captain knew the capacity was 550, and out of desperation or greed or both, he let on 970+64= 1,034 people? Basically he committed suicide (hopefully he was not among the 64 survivors) and he took 969 people down with him. Time to start sharing the vanishing work, even in Africa; absorbing the wage-squelching labor surplus; centrifuging the spending power; cutting the desperation and greed; and getting a life outside of work.]
Senegal raises the death toll in September's ferry disaster, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A9.
DAKAR...- More than five months after a Senegalese ferry capsized off the coast of West Africa, the government acknowledged [yester]day that 1,863 people died, not 1,200 as previously announced....
For earlier suicide stories, click on the desired date -Jul-Sep/2002.
2000 & previous.
For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from *Amazon.com and at bookstores in Harvard and Porter Squares, Cambridge, Mass.
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