SuicideRates and The Family International
According to TFI spokesperson Claire Borowick, The Family International has â€œnot been able to confirm more than 10 of the alleged cases (of suicide). Considering that the national suicide rate was pegged at 12/100,000 per year in 2001, we don't believe that the number of suicides that have occurred over the past 15 years in our movement reaches the national average as per National Institute for Mental Health. Considering that 32,000 people have left our movement since its inception, even these inflated numbers hardly fall within the national average."
In 2004, The Family claimed 10,231 members. Therefore, the total population of TFI for the 15 years prior to October 2004 can be estimated as no larger than 42,231 people. The acknowledged proportion of suicides among current and former Family members is 10/42,231, or .000237 or .02% and twice that of the U.S. general population.
Whether or not the proportion of .02% is applied to a 15 year period, its 28 year period of official existence as The Family, or from its founding some 38 years ago in 1968, the law of constant proportions indicates that length of time makes no difference in the calculation of a fixed populationâ€™s yearly suicide rate over time. In other words, (10/15)/(42,231/15), (10/28)/(42,231/28), and (10/38)/(42,231/38) are all equal values resulting in a yearly proportion of .000237 suicides per total TFI membership, former and current, for whatever length of time TFI wishes to claim.
While it is not logical to assume the 1990 suicide rate among former and current TFI members is the same as the rate in 2005, it is important to understand that suicide rates in a population universe are highly stable over long periods of time. For example, the U.S. general population rate in 1985 was 12.38 per 100,000; in 1990: 12.39; in 1995: 11.75; and in 2000: 10.43. In 15 years between 1988 and 2003, the U.S. rate shows a standard deviation of about .66. This low variability of an event in the population universe permits an estimation procedure using proportional distribution of the TFI rate over time without violating any major statistical assumptions.
When the proportion of .000237 is standardized by the denominator of 100,000 persons for comparison to general population rates, the acknowledged rate of suicides for TFI is 23.7 suicides per 100,000 persons. By citing the U.S. average of 12 per 100,000, Borowik chose the rate specific to young adults aged 20 to 24 years old in 2001. Suicide rates in the U.S. have declined steadily since the 1990s, while rates among young adults raised in TFI reportedly have risen from zero to 15 in that same time period. In 1990, U.S. general population rates for young adults 20-24 was 15.1 per 100,000; in 2000, the rate was 12.51.
Even when the comparison group is restricted to 20-24 year old young adults, the acknolwedged suicide rate among current and former TFI members is twice that of the U.S. general population.
For more information about U.S. suicide rates, see:
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate.html
National Institute of Mental Health, Suicide Facts and Statistics