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campbell 03-02-2014 08:19 AM

Mortality trends in the news


The finding was first noticed in 2001. Researchers from the University of Toronto studied 1,649 Oscar-nominated actors and actresses. When they accounted for factors that could influence death rates, they found that among the participants, Oscar winners had a survival advantage of about four extra years of life, and actors who won multiple Oscars had an advantage of six years. Nominees who didnít win had the same survival rates as their non-nominated peers.

Success could possibly account for the survival advantage, the researchers say. They speculate that since stars are subjected to intense personal scrutiny, they pay special attention to their looks and behaviors. Consequently, they may avoid risky behavior and focus more intensively on eating and exercise. Not to mention, many have the means to hire nannies, trainers, and managers, which could mean they are under less stress than the general population.

Of course, there are the exceptions, like Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman who died recently after an overdose. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine questioned the methods of the 2001 study. The original study was criticized for counting the years an actor was alive, instead of comparing years after a win. They also declared winners and losers at the onset, and didnít factor in whether actors in the study won an award later on. When the new researchers re-calculated, they didnít find the numbers significant.

Read more: Oscars 2014: Winners Live Longer Than Nominees |

jas66Kent 03-02-2014 08:38 AM

Send that off to the underwriting dept. :)

campbell 03-11-2014 07:53 PM

Well, this is pleasant.


It is a question that has puzzled mental health experts in Asia for some time: Why are so many elderly Asians committing suicide?

The past decade has seen astonishing spikes in the rate of Asians over 65 choosing to end their lives early, particularly in the region's economically successful countries.

In South Korea, for example, suicides in that age group have risen more than fivefold, from 14 per 100,000 in 1990 to 77 per 100,000 in 2009, according to Hallym University's Institute of Aging.
In Taiwan, seniors took their lives more than twice as often as any other age group, at a rate of 35.8 per 100,000 in 2010, versus 17.6 for the national average.
Suicides among city dwellers in China aged 70 to 74 surged to 33.76 per 100,000 in the mid-2000s, up from 13.39 in the 1990s.
And these numbers are expected to rise.

A 2011 report found that mental well-being would likely worsen over the next two decades in Asia, with suicide rates expected to continue climbing.

The World Health Organization found higher-than-average suicide rates among the elderly in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore. The irony: Wealth and economic growth over the past quarter-century has given families greater financial resources to take care of their elderly.

By contrast, the rate remains both stable and far lower in less-developed countries, such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

(Experts stress that government data concerning elderly suicides in Asia is considered to be of poor quality, due to unreported cases. So rates could be even higher.)

In Asia, experts blame the rapid social and economic changes across the region and scarce mental health services. In some Asian countries a disproportionate number of suicides among elderly has followed financial or health crises, but experts are now looking at the social pressures being placed on the elderly by industrialization and population growth.

"The potential risk is that as life expectancy is getting longer and longer, the dependency ratio is getting much larger. That is, there will be fewer people to support the elderly population in the coming 10 to 20 years."

A 2009 Chinese-authored study into 304 elderly suicides found the three life events that preceded suicide were: physical illness or injury (59.2 percent); major changes in diet, sleeping or other daily routines (37.8 percent); and financial difficulties (34.5 percent).

The study found that along with the one-child policy, the elderly had been hit hard by China's booming economy and socio-economic changes. As people flock to urban centers for work, the family unit has splintered.

"In China, because of the one-child policy there are fewer caregivers now," points out Professor Kua Ee Hoek, a senior consultant psychiatrist at Singapore's National University Health System (NUHS), who has extensively researched elderly suicides in China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.

China is now taking urgent steps to tackle elderly suicides. In August, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced the government would reduce costs and red tape to kickstart more investment in social services for its elderly by 2020.

Included in the government program are services such as daily care, medical care, psychological counseling, and emergency aid, with additional subsidies on land use and taxes. The guidelines offer a 50-percent cut in administrative fees on for-profit organizations.

A new policy also now permits elderly parents, who don't receive regular visits from their children, to sue them.

...and then watch the murder rate go up.

campbell 03-14-2014 10:17 AM


FORTUNE -- A few days ago, a Wall Street executive was debating whether he could get away from the office long enough to see his shrink uptown. In the midst of a busy workday, it was looking unlikely. Then he stumbled across an article in the New York Post with the disquieting news that a J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) employee had jumped to his death from the bank's offices in Hong Kong, just three weeks after a fellow banker at the firm had committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the bank's London headquarters. "JPMorgan suicide is 3rd mysterious death in weeks," read the Post headline.
Banker suicides aren't a new phenomenon. Clusters of them in quick succession occurred during the Great Depression and during the recent Great Recession. Indeed, research has shown that suicides can be contagious, so to speak. That is particularly true when graphic and sensational reports of the fatalities lead to copycats, according to the American Association of Suicidology. So the recent untimely deaths have sparked concerns that there could be more on the way. J.P. Morgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti says the company has sent notices reminding employees that 24/7 mental health-related support resources are available at the bank, and that its hearts go out to the families of the deceased.

But with each new wave of suicides come questions about whether the deaths signify a disturbing trend: Is finance a potentially deadly occupation? That is, do bankers kill themselves more often than other people?
To find out, Fortune asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pull the latest suicide statistics from its National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database. During 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2007—the most recent years during which research was funded and for which data is available—there were 329 suicides among financial specialists, more than in any other occupation tracked by the CDC except for the broad grouping of "engineers and scientists," a cohort that lost 502 to suicide.
Finance, however, is a vast profession, and while the total number of finance professionals who commit suicide may be larger than for some other professions, they are actually less likely to do so than, say, lawyers or firefighters.
Take J.P. Morgan as an example: At a bank with more than 260,000 employees around the globe, a pair of suicides may seem shocking and random but the figure is, in fact, well within the range of statistical probability. Two might even be a low number. "You would expect that when people work these long hours," says Alexandra Michel, a former Goldman Sachs (GS) investment banker turned management professor at the University of Pennsylvania who for 12 years has been tracking the performance and health of a group of Wall Street recruits at two banks (she can't say which) in an ongoing study. "You would think that it would happen much more often."

A close examination of the CDC data does reveal a worrisome connection between certain types of financial jobs and an elevated risk of suicide. The CDC organizes its mortality numbers by census categories, which can be pretty broad. The Wall Street-oriented classification is "sales representatives for financial and business services"—a category that includes a variety of banking positions, ranging from investment advisers to brokers to traders to investment bankers. People in that group are 39% more likely to kill themselves than the workforce as a whole. (Members of some other white-collar professions are at even greater risk: Lawyers are 54% more likely than average to commit suicide, and physicians are 97% more likely.)
Within finance, observers say that investment bankers are often under the most acute mental stress. "Out of all the sections of finance, no position do I know of that's more extreme in terms of the emotional endurance one has to have than investment banking," says Cass, the psychologist who is also the co-author of Bullish Thinking: The Advisor's Guide to Surviving and Thriving on Wall Street.
It's a syndrome Michel has also observed while shadowing investment bankers over the years. After her subjects had worked at a bank for four years on average, she began observing signs of sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression: "I could see how people came in chatting happily on the phone with friends, how that became less and less," she says. "People became completely absorbed in the office, in work. Some are feeling trapped."

A CDC analysis of suicides by occupation for 2008 and beyond won't be ready until 2015. But the government agency recently reported an alarming increase in suicides between 1999 and 2010 among Americans old enough to be at the peak of their careers or well-established in the C-suite. Suicides among 35- to 64-year-olds rose 28%, with even larger increases among white people (40%) and those over 50 (more than 48%).

snikelfritz 03-14-2014 11:38 AM

I thought dentists had the highest suicide rate, or is that just an urban legend?

campbell 03-18-2014 01:03 PM


In the United States, suicide rates have risen, particularly among middle-aged people: between 1999 and 2010, the number of Americans between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-four who took their own lives rose by almost thirty per cent. Among young people in the U.S., suicide is the third most common cause of death; among all Americans, suicide claims more lives than car accidents, which were previously the leading cause of injury-related death.

Last May, citing the “substantial” rise in suicide among the middle-aged, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described suicide as “an increasing public health concern.” That realization has begun to spread: in the same month, Newsweek ran a cover article called “The Suicide Epidemic,” noting that, around the world, self-harm takes “more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.” In America, these numbers—which many experts believe are lower than the actual figures, owing to under-reporting—cannot simply be attributed to the toll of a long recession, or increasing gun ownership: clinical depression is also on the rise. Suicide rates declined in the nineteen-nineties, but since 1999 more Americans have killed themselves each year than in the one before.

Don Quijote 03-18-2014 03:06 PM


Originally Posted by campbell (Post 7334380)
Suicide rates declined in the nineteen-nineties, but since 1999 more Americans have killed themselves each year than in the one before.

That article is pretty sloppy with the difference between the rate and the number.

But never mind that, is it coincidence that the US median real income peaked in 1999?

Olrich 04-17-2014 01:38 PM

campbell 04-17-2014 05:04 PM

Oooh, that's really cool. I'll take a few screenshots later. Thanks for the link.

campbell 04-21-2014 07:05 AM


Mr. Bosworth parsed this data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study, a survey that tracks the health and work-life of 26,000 Americans as they age and retire. The data is especially valuable as it tracks the same individuals every two years in what’s known as a longitudinal study, to see how their lives unfold.

The good news is that men of all incomes are living longer. Yet the data shows that the life expectancy of the wealthy is growing much faster than the life expectancy of the poor.

Here’s the sort of detail this remarkable data set can show. You can look at a man born in 1940 and see that during the 1980s, the mid-point of his career, his income was in the top 10% for his age group. If that man lives to age 55 he can expect to live an additional 34.9 years, or to the age of 89.9. That’s six years longer than a man whose career followed the same arc, but who was born in 1920.

For men who were in the poorest 10%, they can expect to live another 24 years, only a year and a half longer than his 1920s counterpart.


Mr. Bosworth’s findings build off earlier research from Hilary Waldron at the Social Security Administration who has also documented the widening gap at the interplay of incomes and longevity. Researchers studying life expectancy use actuarial calculations for their estimates, as precise outcomes cannot be known until an entire generation has passed away. He analyzed the data, along with Kathleen Burke at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to evaluate a common proposal to keep Social Security in balance as the population ages: to simply raise the retirement age

“If it turns out people at the bottom are not having an increase in life expectancy. They are getting a real reduction” in Social Security benefits as a result, said Mr. Bosworth. “They’re going to get it for less years.”

Take the example above. A wealthy man, born in 1920 who retired at age 65, could expect to draw Social Security for 19 years. His son, born in 1940 and retired at age 67, could expect to draw benefits for 24 years. Yes, he retired later, but he’s living longer.

This would not be true for men and women at the bottom. They would draw Social Security for less years, if the retirement age rises, and their longevity does not.
I am willing to bet, given that this is based on those born in the 1940s, that the life expectancy reduction in women has to do with smoking: peak smoking rates for women occurred around 1970 or so.

Unfortunately, I'm not currently able to find the smoking rates by sex graphs I found about 10 years ago. Someone else do that. ;)

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