Infamously cranky New Yorkers may be among the grumpiest people in the United States, but we‘re the least likely of all Americans to commit suicide, a new study shows.
The study, “Dark Contrasts: The Paradox of High Rates of Suicide in Happy Places,” crunched random sample data from all 50 states and revealed a paradox. Utah, for instance, ranks first in life satisfaction, but scored ninth in terms of suicide rates. Hawaii ranked second in life satisfaction and fifth in suicide.
This paradox, said the researchers, has long been observed overall in the United States, as well as in Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland, which all report relatively high life satisfaction scores, yet also have high suicide rates. New York state, by contrast, ranks 45th for happiness, but has the lowest suicide rate in the country.
The study, using research from The University of Warwick in England, Hamilton College in upstate Clinton, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, posited that severely depressed people may feel worse if they are surrounded by lots of cheerful, can-do blue-skyers.
“This result is consistent with other research that shows that people judge their well being in comparison to others around them,” said Stephen Wu, associate professor of economics at Hamilton College. “These types of comparison effects have also been shown with regards to income, unemployment, crime, and obesity,” he added.
New Jersey, incidentally, ranked 47th both in life satisfaction and suicide rates.