September 24, 2008

efficient and chaos

My son spent the afternoon reading newspapers on the couch as I worked on his computer (and skyped with in a new coaching client from Sweden and living in Thailand) so when we finally got out for such exciting tasks as returning a film to Blockbuster and buying bread, he was full of news analysis. He explained that Finland has the highest per capita gun ownership together with the highest suicide rate -- which may somehow explain the recent school shooting -- even though it is a county with the best school system in Europe (according to various studies), highest literacy rates, library use, math and science knowledge and very efficient social and political systems.

Then he noted that actually Trentino has the highest suicide rate in Italy and also is well considered for its educational, health, social systems, but with few guns. The US has lots of guns, a high suicide rate and things generally work. "Cancelling out the gun factor, what do these three places have in common," he asked. His conclusion was that there are more suicides where things work because if everything around you works -- people go about their studies and work in an efficient fashion, systems work and you can realize what you want to do -- those who feel like they basically don't "work" feel cast out of the system much more so than in a non-functioning place (take Naples), leading to more suicides.

I guess that means that a balance between efficiency and chaos creates happier better adjusted people.

It takes a 20 year old to get you confused. Even when he says intelligent things.

a domani,


Jane Lewis said...

I love the thought process that leads to the conclusion of where suicides are more! I'll chew on that a bit.

prof1 said...

Interesting idea... but I am afraid that it does not hold water. It is worth checking the statistics before making generalizations, as well as reading up a bit on what "experts" (or at least people who study the phenomenon for a living) have to say.

Here is a brief overview of the statistics:

Social isolation, alcohol abuse and even bad weather are better predictors of suicide than "things working"-- suicide rates are much higher in the former Soviet states than in Trentino, for example.