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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 28, 2002


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2002;288(8):1022. doi:10.1001/jama.288.8.1022

In the Spectator, an insurance journal, for August 14, Mr. Frederick L. Hoffman, statistician of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, gives an analysis of the suicide record for the year 1901. His figures are taken from fifty cities, and show an average slight increase over the ratio for the preceding decade of nearly 1 per cent., from 15.7 to 16.6 per 100,000 population. He estimates, moreover, from the 1900 census figures of the suicide rate in the registration area of 11.8 per 100,000, that, taking the whole population of the United States as 79,000,000, and including both urban and rural districts, we have an approximate annual mortality by suicide of 10,000 in the country as a whole. Comparing the figures in the fifty municipalities by single years since 1890, it is shown that the increase has been a rather steady and gradual one, only varying by a slightly higher figure in the years 1897 and 1898. Comparing the two five-year periods 1890-5 and 1896-1900 we find an increase of over 2 per cent. in the latter per 100,000 population. Hence, as Mr. Hoffman says, "the implied conclusion is that a further increase in the rate of suicidal tendency in the cities of this country may be expected during the next decade, and the suicide question, like arson in fire insurance, is thus becoming more and more one of utmost importance to life insurance companies."

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