This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Wadsworth Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 11th (copyright 2012, although it actually came out in 2011), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news. Note that the 12th edition is currently in production and will be out in 2015.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Sin City Turns Out Also to Be Suicide City

I had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas (business, not pleasure!) when I received a note from Adam Lippert at Penn State alerting me to a very interesting podcast featuring Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University, discussing the fact that Las Vegas has the highest urban suicide rate in the United States. I thought to myself--what are the odds? 


The point of the story is that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and accounts for twice as many deaths each year as homicides (see Table 5.2 in my 11th edition), and yet it is rarely a topic of public discussion. 

The podcast focuses on Las Vegas. When most people think of Vegas, they think of slot machines, bright lights, maybe a certain Elvis song. Most people wouldn’t immediately think of suicide — except for Matt Wray, a Temple sociologist who has been studying the topic extensively.
Wray was living in Las Vegas when he was struck by the city’s high suicide rate. In fact, it’s got the highest urban rate in the country. Wray got curious about whether the city was “suicidogenic” — whether Las Vegas actually increases the risk of suicide. The answer from his research? A resounding yes. Vegas residents, and even visitors to the city, are at an increased risk of suicide. Wray explains why.
Here's the link to the podcast. It does run for 20 minutes, but you can read the transcript at this site, and just scroll through to the juicy bits, if you prefer to read rather than listen on your iPod.

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