Suicide Rates Highest in Happiest Places

A new research study reveals this paradoxical news: suicide rates are highest in the happiest places. Surveys regularly find that countries like Sweden and Denmark score high on public levels of life satisfaction and happiness. But, these happy places also have high rates of suicide.

To find out more about this phenomenon, researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and the University of Warwick in Britain collected data from more than two million Americans to compare happiness scores with rates of suicide in various U.S. States.

The researchers found that states scoring high on life satisfaction also reported high suicide rates. This report will be published by The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

The researchers opine that unfortunate people affected by unemployment or low income may feel more distressed in the company of their more fortunate peers in happy societies. Such lop-sided comparison may increase the sad people’s depression and unhappiness, forcing them to commit suicide.

2 responses to Suicide Rates Highest in Happiest Places

  1. Hello! What about the effects that giving so much prominence to self-esteem/self-love/self-developmenet etc. has on suicidal behaviour? In Western psychology, it was often postulated that one needs to develop self-esteem in order to properly relate with the world.

    Understanding the value and values of all beings is certainly necessary to interact with the world; however, what happens when we give to one own esteem a kind of priority on the rest? Focusing on self-esteem may result in the vicious circle: self-esteem, self, self-interest, greed, feeling disconnected from other people, need to reinforce self-esteem, etc. What about leaving self-esteem (which is strongly conditional) and moving towards acceptance (unconditional), appreciation and embracing? Would this have a beneficial impact and lower suicide rates in the happiest countries? With acceptance, instead of self-esteem, people in happiest countries would not feel the pressure of constant comparing to the ones who appear to be even luckier than them (in relationship, financially, healthy, career-wise, etc.).

    Thanks! Peace and metta,


  2. So how do you define and rate and measure happiness?
    I suspect that the “studies” had boilerplate questions and consisted of a survey. But the respones depend on culture. In the east its common for people to regularly complain about their problems when asked – even to strangers. In the west people display a happy demeanor even when they have issues. These would definitely skew the survey and give these kinds of results.

    Also the researchers opinion of employment and low income seems to imply that they believe thst money brings hsppiness – they probably have their homework cut out for them.

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