Economics of suicide

Zubin Jelveh
points us to a pretty grim chart: the location of suicide jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge. If that isn’t cheerful enough for you, here is a piece from Slate on the economics of suicide:

Marcotte’s study found that after people attempt suicide and fail, their incomes increase by an average of 20.6 percent compared to peers who seriously contemplate suicide but never make an attempt. In fact, the more serious the attempt, the larger the boost—”hard-suicide” attempts, in which luck is the only reason the attempts fail, are associated with a 36.3 percent increase in income. (The presence of nonattempters as a control group suggests the suicide effort is the root cause of the boost.)

Why should suicide be an economic boon? Once you attempt suicide you suddenly have access to lots of resources—medical care, psychiatric attention, familial love and concern—that were previously expensive or unavailable. Doubters may ask why the depressed don’t seek out resources earlier. But studies have demonstrated that psychological and familial resources become “cheaper” after a suicide attempt: It is difficult to find free medical care when you are sad, but once you try to kill yourself, it’s forced on you.

I have to advise you not to try this at home.

Tim Harford’s blog

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Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.