Saturday, September 16, 2006


One more thing that's our fault: The editorial page of yesterday's Waterbury Republican-American in Connecticut -- much admired by the good folks at Free Republic -- has discovered that liberalism (or at least the editorial board's caricature version of it) causes teenage suicide:

College suicide's clueless enablers

...Since 1950, the suicide rate among college-aged women has more than doubled, while the rate among college-aged men has tripled.

Higher-education officials and mental-health professionals haven't agreed on the cause, but it could have a lot to do with the cocoon culture the mushy minds of self-esteemists have created for America's children. From an early age, children are taught to believe right and wrong, personal responsibility, and winning and losing are antiquated principles. They are told their opinions, no matter how wrong-headed, are as valuable as the next child's. Consequently, many become narcissists whose lives are ruled by emotion rather than reason....

The rising number of campus suicides is a manifestation of the neurotic society spawned by self-esteemists.

OK, a reality check:

I looked at Centers for Disease Control statistics (scroll down to "Deaths: Final Data for 2003, table 18"). The U.S. had 3,988 suicides in the 15-24 age group in '03.

And I found this:

According to the latest statistics by the WHO, in 2000 South Korea had a total of 673 suicide cases between the ages of 15-24. Japan, in comparison, had almost triple that number.

In other words, Japan in '00 had roughly 2,000 suicides a year in the 15-24 age group -- approximately half the U.S. total in '03. Japan's population is somewhat less than half that of the United States.

So Japan's youth per-capita suicide rate is about the same as America's, or perhaps higher.

Anyone think Japan has a "cocoon culture" "spawned by self-esteemists"?


Now, why is the Republican-American writing about this? Well, here's the lead paragraph of the editorial:

A student at Hunter College in New York City tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide in her dorm room in 2004. Since her actions violated the housing contract she signed, she was expelled from the dorm. So she sued, claiming Hunter violated anti-discrimination laws (attempted suicide is considered a sign of mental disability). Because the school, part of the State University of New York, asked the girl to be true to her word, taxpayers are out $65,000.

Did you know about this? Did you know that schools are treating suicide attempts in dormitories not as cries for help, but as violations of housing policy? Did you know they're responding not with counseling, but with eviction notices? And our compassionate friends at the Republican-American think that's a good thing?

More on this trend and the reaction to it here, here, and here. The problem, we're told, is that schools are being sued by parents when kids commit suicide on campus. Well, maybe so -- but this is how the schools respond? You make a suicidal kid homeless immediately after a suicide attempt. On what planet would this not be considered a dangerous blow to a fragile psyche at its low point? Would you respond to on-campus anorexics by forcing them off the meal plan?

The editorial goes on to say:

... the Hunter College incident also demonstrates the dilemma higher education faces in dealing with troubled students. What would have happened if the young woman at Hunter had killed herself? Her family would have sued the pants off the college and got a lucrative wrongful-death payout.

As I say, maybe this is a problem -- but how dare this paper assume these parents would have sued the school either way, as if they're just out for a quick buck. I doubt they have the stomach for more legal squabbling, but I think they have another case -- a libel case, against the Waterbury Republican-American.

No comments: