Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's not the data, it's how you present it...

Here's the headline:
Got that? Got the proper train of thought going? Oh my god, our poor boys are killing theirownselfs! Dammit, Mr. Cheney, you bring them home right now!

If you get riled up enough, you might not even read to the last 'graph...
In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army.
Y'know, I don't mind being jerked around a little bit, Mr. Reporter, but if you want your propaganda headline to work better, you really shouldn't include the raw numbers. It makes me feel like you think I'm dumb.

Regardless of your feelings on the issue, folks, you should feel a little insulted.


Matt G said...

Do they mean "men" in the army (XY chromosome), or do they mean "men" in the army (soldiers in general)?

What was the suicide rate among soldiers in 2005? 2001?

What's the average age of a soldier in 2005 vs. 2006?

It's to be expected, unfortunately, that group of young men and women put into a stressful environment (we can all agree from the outset that soldiering is stressful, right?) will have a higher rate of suicide than the general population.

I would also expect that 19-year -olds deployed away from their mothers and girlfriends and huntin' dogs and beer are going to be a little more likely to be depressed than the average high school graduate.

Tam said...

It would appear that, at least if you are a male age 17-45, your odds of offing yourself are higher in the civilian world.

Anonymous said...

The average American's dicussion skills are limited to parroting the last Headline they struggled through. Reading the entire article would have taken HOURS, time they would rather invest watching American Idol, The Biggest Loser or (I'm at a loss here- I don't have a functioning TV)whatever...... The raw numbers, which tell anyone with even 1/2 their brain available that young men are LESS likely to kill themselves if they are in the military than the general population of young men. The MSM understands its target audience. The Sheeple don't have the time or attention span to get to the supporting data, nor do they have the critical thinking skills to draw their own conclusions from it. They'll just 'rebleat the last thing they herd.'

Anonymous said...

The supporting data also says that only 25% of the suicides occurred in war zones. (Iraq, Afghanistan)

Anonymous said...

The supporing data supports the headline. Suicides among soldiers are up each year over the previous five years. I guess that was the point of the article.

I tend not to read too much into a reporter's motives; it sometimes makes a simple story too complicated for me.


David said...

Actually I thought that suicides amoung deployed troops is lower than troops at home. So I went to to do a minimal amout of research. I found this:

I the first year of OIF there wer 19 confirmed suicides. Playing with the numbers and assuming a low number for the deployed soldiers at the time (130,000), that gives us a rate of about 14.5. This is in line with civilian suicides in this country. So it is not being far away from family and in combat that are causing these suicides (for the most part I have to say, as for many we can't really say why the killed themselves).

Anonymous said...

Soldiers, unlike civilians, cannot isolate themselves if they are depressed. They are around lots of other soldiers and changes in behavior are readily evident, ie depression and other symptoms. A soldiers chain of command has been trained to identify these symptoms and get the soldier professional help as needed. This would perhaps account for the lower suicide rate in the military population as opposed to the civilian world.