Happy Countries Often Have High Suicide Rates, Study Finds

By Staff Writer

Countries where the majority of citizens are happy tend to have higher suicide rates than less cheerful nations, an international group of researchers says. Their seemingly paradoxical findings were published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

This effect has been observed previously among individual nations, such as Denmark, which has a very high suicide rate despite the fact that its citizens consistently rank among the happiest in the world. However, this is the first investigation to show that content nations across the world also struggle with suicide.

Researchers from the University of Warwick, Hamilton College and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco surveyed more than 1 million people about their happiness, they then compared these findings to suicide rates in certain locations. Regions that ranked high in happiness also had high suicide rates.

An explanation for the findings may lay in individuals’ comparisons of themselves to others, the researchers said. Many people gauge their happiness against other people. Therefore, a discontented person who lives among mostly happy people may feel even more despondent.

Anyone who feels as though their life is dissatisfying and is considering suicide may benefit from treatment from rehab programs.