Be Happy: Watch The Suicide Rate Climb
The most contented countries on the planet tend to have the highest suicide rates, according to an academic study that probes deep into the human psyche.
The trend for happiness and suicide to co-exist was revealed through a comparison of life satsifaction statistics with suicide rates in a worldwide context.
The research paper is titled Dark Contrasts: The Paradox of High Rates of Suicide in Happy Places, and it’s been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
The study was carried out by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at the University of Warwick, who said: “Deep down we are creatures of comparison, even though we may not always realize that.”
A range of nations, including the US, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, and Switzerland, are right up at the top of the table for a happiness quotient but also show high suicide rates.
By contrast, Greece which is right at the bottom of the happiness scale has the lowest recorded suicide rate at a little over five per 100,000 people.
Meanwhile Switzerland, flying high for happiness at number three, also had the fourth highest suicide rate, seven times that of Greece at 35 per 100,000.
Dr. James Maddux, a professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, was not surprised be these results.
“There is an abundance of research evidence accumulated over several decades that people constantly engage in what is referred to as ‘upward comparison’ and ‘downward comparison.’”
So, for ‘upward comparison’ you compare yourself to those you see as healthier, happier and more financially secure and, and vice versa for the ‘downward comparisons.’
”Too much upward comparison can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s life and possibly to depression,” Maddux said, ”while a healthy dose of downward comparison — otherwise known as ‘counting your blessings’ — can lead to greater life satisfaction.”
Dr Maddux continued to suggest that evidence pointed from research, that in order to boost one’s life satisfaction, it was encouraged to make a list of things you are grateful for at least two or three times a week.
Researchers interpret the psychology of the study results as showing human beings judging their emotions relative to those around them. In other words a person surrounded by happy people is likely to have his or her depression magnified.
Professor Andrew Oswald summed up his findings, saying: “Discontented people in a happy place may feel particularly harshly treated by life. Those dark contrasts may, in turn, increase the risk of suicide. If humans are subject to mood swings, the lows of life may thus be more tolerable in an environment in which other humans are unhappy.”
Please take part in the Urtak below and watch the video of Oswald talking about the economics of happiness:
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