Suicide Statistics

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Reply Tue 10 May, 2005 09:53 am
Suicide Statistics
So, I was reading a statement by Claire Borowick about suicide (see below) and some "fuzzy math" (to borrow the term from dubya) came to mind.

Claire Borowick wrote:
Incidence of Suicide amongst former members

In response to the tragic suicide/murder of former second generation member Ricky Rodriguez, detractors of the Family have publicly stated that a high incidence of suicide exists amongst former second generation members. Such claims, though unsubstantiated, have been parroted by media sources without any investigative attempts to verify these statements.

Their claim that nearly 30 suicides occurred in the past 15 years has no basis in fact or official causes of death. Many of the people listed as suicides on their web site actually died of natural or accidental causes. We were only able to confirm 11 of the alleged cases, occurring over a 20 year period of our history. In the majority of these cases, there was no indication that the person’s past affiliation to the Family had any bearing on the decision to take their life.

We acknowledge that those who were once a part of our movement are as likely to succumb to social illnesses as the population at large. According to our records, however, the rate of incidence of suicide amongst the approximately 32,000 former members of the Family is far below the average in general, and in conformance to the expected rate in some age ranges.

The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is responsible for a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people per year. In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide, rendering it among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44. In a period of history where the rates of suicide are rising at an alarming rate, suicide and acts of violence are virtually unknown in our fellowship.

First of all, 32k members have left the group in the past 20 years? That is a rate of 1,600/year! That doesn't seem right. However, if we allow that and say that was the average rate per year and that rate hasn't changed, then their current 11,297 members will have all left by seven years from now (assuming the rate leaving is much faster than the rate of those joining and babies being born).

If "only" 11 former members have committed suicide in the past 20 years, that would be at a rate of almost 2 per 100,000. However, if these 11 only include SGAs and SGAs only started leaving in large numbers for the past 10 years (mainly because they weren't old enough) and we assume this number to be around 9,165 (that is, every FGA that ever joined, 3,688, married at least one other FGA and they all had on average five children: 3,688 / 2 * 5 = 9,165), that would bring the rate up to 12 per 100,000! And this is supposed to the be an "ideal" environment we were raised in, right? This number is actually much higher if the more likely number of around 20 suicides (among SGAs) and the more likely 3,262 former SGAs (9,165 - 5,903 <- current SGAs). Using this number, the rate increases to around 61 per 100,000, or almost 4 times the world average!

PS: I would like to do some more rigorous and statistically valid calculations. I think we have enough data from them to show that ALL of their math is WAY off!
Reply Fri 13 May, 2005 05:31 am
Got lost in all the stats Thorwald.

Who's stats are you criticising?

Is the instance of ex-CoG's suicide as high as we all suspect?
Reply Fri 13 May, 2005 01:52 pm
Checked my methods & math
One way I check my work is by running my formula against another source of statistical information. If you go to the following link and follow the instructions, you'll see how suicide rates per 100,000 per year are calculated:
default to 2000-2003
select the report button
select health indicators/diseases/deaths/injuries/suicides
click table

You will see that for the 3 years in the table, there were 3,572 suicides.
The suicide rate per year was 10.5 (raw calculation). From another website*, you will learn that the state census was 11,353,140 in 2000. That is our denominator for all three years. The variance in the denominator over the three-year period is so small as to make no difference.

3,572/3 = 1190.667 suicides per year
(1190.667/11353140)*100000 = 10.48755 suicides per 100,000 citizens per year. This puts us at the official rate of 10.5 for each of the three years. The rate for my state, btw, is not much different from the rate for the entire U.S.

If you run the report back through 1994-1996, you’ll see there hasn’t been a whole lot of change over the period of 1994-2003. Suicide rates remain very stable over time in the general population of a given geographic area. The 10.5 stat for my state is not really that much different than the WHO stat for the world at 16 per 100,000 per year. Yeah, I'd say there's a significant difference, but that difference isn't as great as the range between the WHO stat and TFI special population stats.

I figured out that Claire's 20 years = 1983-2003, because '83 is when The Family was born and COG died.

Now for TFI estimates:
32,000 former members over 20 years = 1,600 per year
11 suicides over 20 years = .55 suicides per year
(.55/1600)*100000 = 34.375 suicides per 100,000 former members per year

If we extend the timeline to 30 years at 1,600 per year, we must also extend the suicide numbers at .55 for the additional 10 years, which is something I didn't do in my second calculation posted at exfamily. The results are the same if we extend the average over another 10 years. The assumption of 1,600 former members per year remains stable as the denominator, just as the base population of 11,353,140 remained stable as the denominator in the ODH website's calculation for 2000-2003.

The problem as I see it is that the number of suicides in TFI are probably increasing as the Second Generation ages, so it’s not entirely accurate to compare TFI to general population suicide rates, which remain stable over long periods of time. The rate also will increase as the First Generation moves into their 60s & 70s, although many of these deaths will look more like accidents than suicides. (Notice how suicide is classified under injuries?)

Regardless of the comparison issues, you can see that TFI’s rate for 20 years is atrocious at 34 per 100,000 per year. It's far, far above WHO estimates for 2000-2003. Most public health agencies calculate their numbers on the same time frames, btw, because there is a global move toward reporting standardized health data.

Thorwald 1
Reply Fri 13 May, 2005 03:59 pm
Okay. Now I agree with the data. It was the 0.55 part I was looking for. I agree with your analysis and the numbers are good.

Of course, these numbers are much worse (for TFI) is we allow that SGAs have only been leaving in large numbers since the early 90s (10-15 years) and that the number of confirmed suicides is really around 20 (roughly half-way between TFI's numbers, 11, and MovingOn-member's numbers, 30).

Let's continue this analysis, if you have time. We can work on the article together. Let me know what you think.
Monger 1
Reply Fri 13 May, 2005 08:23 pm
This may be of interest:
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 03:37 pm
cool chart
I'm wondering why the births declined in the late 80s and early 90s. Could it be because everyone was getting older and having less kids? Except SGs were starting to have kids in the 90s. Of course, Maria then gave "permission" for people to use birth control, if they so desired. That certainly changed the dynamics a lot.

Here's something I found in the Book of Remembrance, Vol. II, in case it is of any help to you:

Chapter 9 – Winning the World with Mo & Music

The lit was really getting out, but the disciples weren’t coming in, so early in 1975, Dad put the brakes on litnessing in favour of more personal witnessing, soul winning and discipleship, and the literature output per person was slowed down considerably. But the number of fulltime disciples went up from 3,000 to 4,400, as well as adding 383 Catacomb disciples – those who couldn’t’ leave their families or schools because they were underage, and others in prison or with military obligations.

“From now on,â€
WalkerJ 1
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 05:46 pm
Small correction on the page for Josh Likens: I believe the surname is spelled 'Lykins'.

I would make this correction myself, but I can't move pages.
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 06:59 pm
More ideas
The bar chart with birth numbers and Achiek's information could be used to plot trend lines--one for those born into TF and one for ppl who joined in the 60s, 70s & 80s. I have a trend line function in one of my software packages. Give me a few days to play with the data and let's see what emerges. I think that average proportional distance between the two trend lines might be used to estimate rate of departure for each of the membership groups (those who joined before 1990 and those born in the 70s and 80s), since we have data on current distribution information by age.
Monger 1
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 07:02 pm
If there are particular types of data that would be helpful let us know. We may have (or be able to obtain) the statistics in question to some degree but not have gotten around to posting them yet.
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 07:07 pm
Reply to Acheick
Two factors might account for the peak in the early 80s. That would have been the natural peak in the fertility of FGs. It was also the height of FFing and TF's sexual revolution. SGs are clearly not interested in having large families, and sexual intercourse does not play as big a role in TF now as a means of winning souls or managing/controlling Home membership. These days, people are encouraged to love Jesus all by themselves...
WalkerJ 1
Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 08:10 pm
A few other notable factors that possibly contribute to the current fall in births are 1) the FGAs are getting too old to have children, 2) the Family's child bearing population has substantially dwindled, 3) many SGA couples prefer to have less children than their FGA parents had.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2005 08:32 am
55% of the second generation are NOT CM members? Let's just say they're gone. That's a base of 8,777 SGs on which to calculate a suicide rate. If all 11 of the suicides that TF owns up to are SGs, that means the suicide rate for SGs who've left TF is 125 per 100,000!!!! (If 1989 was the year 18 year olds born in 1971 began to leave, that would be about .92 suicides a year for 12 years.) Holy mother of gawd.

xfamily no doubt has its own count of the number of known SG suicides since 1989. It would be very easy to produce a rate using birth data and a 55% departure rate that will kick TFI in the pants. For the article, I'd show 1) how bad the official numbers are that TFI touts, 2) what the real number is likely to be based on TFI's own statistical tables. Instead of comparing the second number to WHO figures for all age groups, I suggest a comparison group like average number of suicides among young adults age 18-35 from the WHO data. This is a more accurate comparison group.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2005 10:55 am
Forcast build on birth & total membership trends
Members Births Year NDisc Departures (est.)
12648 324 1994 40 -327
12712 338 1995 40 -314
12776 338 1996 40 -314
12841 360 1997 40 -336
12905 291 1998 40 -267
12969 255 1999 40 -231
12492 225 2000 40 -212
11851 169 2001 54 -418
11297 182 2002 54 -318
10653 159 2003 54 -431
10231 135 2004 54 -233
9750 112 2005 54 -316
9291 88 2006 54 -317

1) Membership = FM & CM & MM (Anyone who gives a tithe)
2) Using the birth data for 1994-2004, the trend forecast a decline in number of births at the current rate in 2005-2006.
3) Using membership data for 1994 & 1999-2004, average yearly growth in membership between 1994 and 1999 was estimated.
4) NDisc (New adult disciples) was based on three datapoints: information for 1999-2000 yielded a yearly avg. of 40 NDs. Information for 2000s yielded a yearly avg. of 54 NDs. It makes sense that slightly more NDs are joining now that SGs who stay are attracting potential partners.
5) Departures are the difference between the increase/decrease in total membership from year to year and the number of births + estimated avg. NDs.

Caveats: Birth rates may not decline this quickly in the next two years, because SGs who stay are hitting their peak reproductive years. We may see a small baby boomlet as SGs who remain settle into a sense of security about their careers in TFI. I need to do further analysis of the trend in SG membership relative to reproductive age.
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 03:08 pm
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 07:38 am
Re: Suicide Statistics
What of those who have attempted suicide?

Bet those stats are more revealing. I, for one, could add my name!
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 08:40 pm
Re: Suicide Statistics
The amount of "Almost suicides" or "Failed suicides" is more difficult to ascertain... some people may not admit to the fact they attempted suicide so getting at the actual number will be nearly impossible.

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