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3,000 Suicides Due to DUI per YEAR



by Stephen Beck on Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:48 pm

In an above post (9:34 am), Jeanne wrote: “Well, Greg said that we're talking about 50 suicides per day. He finds that hard to believe.”

There’s some confusion happening somewhere, or there’s a typo. 50 suicides per day equals 18,250 per year. How did it go from 3,000 DUI suicides to 18,250?

If Greg is thinking there are 50 DUI suicides per day, then no wonder “he finds that hard to believe.”

Another way to look at it is 3,000 / 50 states = 60 per state, per year.

But I think the best way to view the situation is, as mentioned in a prior post: There are “over 3,300 local jails nationwide,” so with 3,000 DUI suicides annually, that’s less than one DUI suicide per jail, per year.

It sure would be interesting to find out if there’s a spike in suicides at the same time there’s one of those national “ drunk driver crackdown” campaigns happening.

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Postby Stephen Beck on Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:20 am

My post that once occupied this space has been moved to the Checkpoint Charlie forum because that's a more appropriate location.

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Postby Stephen Beck on Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:15 pm

Despite all of the above, some may think the 3,000 DUI jail suicides per year figure (derived from the Hayes / Rowan study) is completely inconceivable. So . . . (and I apologize for some redundancy):

In the following, rather than using the suicide rate of the general population of 10.6 per 100,000 I’ve used the rate for males because the overwhelming majority (94%) of jail suicides are males.

U.S. suicide rate for males is 17.6 per 100,000 in 2002.
100,000 / 17.6 = 5,681 or 1 suicide per 5,681 males.

1.5 million DUI arrests annually / 3,000 jail suicides annually = 1 jail suicide per 500 arrests.

5,681 / 500 = 11.36 . . . so the DUI jail suicide/arrest ratio of 1:500 is 11.36 times greater than the suicide rate for males in the general population.

Those are nationwide numbers. Suicide rates west of the Mississippi are generally higher than east of the river. In New Mexico for example, in 2002 the suicide rate for males was 32.1 per 100,000. That’s 1 out of 3,115 men. (Of the 50 states, NM has the fifth highest overall suicide rate)

3,115 / 500 DUI suicides = 6.23. So the DUI suicide rate in New Mexico is only 6.23 times greater than the rate for New Mexico males in the general population.

I’d venture to say that the DUI process (arrest, jail etc.) is an experience that’s at least 6.23 times worse than happy hour with friends at a cozy cantina in New Mexico.

How does the “typical” DUI arrestee view the arrest ordeal? –

“Jail suicide prevention profiles indicate that DWI offenders are among the highest risk suicide candidates because they tend to suffer from depression and anxiety combined with alcohol and/or drug use.” (From a report prepared for the New Mexico Criminal and Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council:

The Hayes and Rowan study said this: “Prior publicity and research has hypothesized that, if an individual is arrested for a DWI-related offense, the risk of suicide is greater if their incarceration is mandated by the state's drunk driving law.”

H/R also states, “The overwhelming majority (82.4%) of suicide victims confined in holding facilities were intoxicated (from alcohol, drugs, or both) upon their incarceration. These findings are not surprising since jail suicide research literature is replete with evidence that equates suicide with intoxication. Further, persons taken into custody for alcohol-related offenses are often initially transported to a holding facility.”

Following is a look at the DUI arrest process by way of an email I sent to someone who expressed very strong doubts about the accuracy of the 3,000 DUI jail suicide figure:

I had a few spare minutes so I thought I’d respond to another item in your email about the 3,000 DUI jail sucides statement.

You wrote: “If what you say is true, it's a scandal of gigantic proportions: the self-slaughter of persons jailed for nothing more than a driving offense.”

“nothing more than a driving offense.” – One does not get arrested for speeding or for making an improper left turn. Cruising through stop signs or trying to beat red lights are acts that can cause serious accidents. If a cop spots you ignoring a stop sign and writes a ticket, you willingly, albeit grudgingly, pay the fine. However, you will not be arrested, you will not lose thousands of dollars, you will not be carted off to jail, you will not lose your right to drive, you will not lose your car, you will not be placed on probation, you will not be forbidden to leave the state, you will not be forced to attend a behavior modification program, and you certainly will not be contemplating suicide. BUT, if you have an unlawful BAC, welcome to Hell.

Welcome to Big Brother's New Prohibition where cities unleash goon squads with guns to arrest drivers who allegedly demonstrated the potential of causing some undefined harm to someone, or something, sometime in the future at some unspecified location. The suspect is shackled, his car is ransacked, he's searched and tossed in the patrol car, then photographed, fingerprinted, articles of clothing are taken, wallets and purses are snooped through, and if the suspect declines to submit to an alcohol test, he may be strapped down, have needles plunged into his body and blood extracted from his veins, then he's placed in a cage with an unwavering camera spying on him. And then, even if that person is found Not Guilty, he must pay up to $500.00 dollars to the city for the repugnant experience. It's tantamount to armed robbery, kidnapping, and assault and battery – to say the very least. And it happens to about 1.5 million people every year.

“nothing more than a driving offense.”

Upon hearing of DUI suicides, a common response is: “It's just another example of weak people not standing up to their own actions and choices.”

They did not “choose” to be arrested. They did not choose to be a victim of highway robbery. A driver is tooling down the road minding his own business, then, with the flick of a switch the flashing lights go on and that driver is transported to another dimension and placed in a cage like a vicious animal. The contrast is stark and swift, it’s night and day, it’s black and white - there are no shades of gray. Does one tolerate the insanity, or leave it behind? It’s live or die, and life is black while death is white. What happens after death is uncertain. What is certain is the immediate situation of being caged like a wild animal, treated like a child molester, while knowing of the abundant misery that will surely follow. It’s black or white: Tolerate the intolerable or leave the lunacy behind.

The underlying motivating factors behind suicide are diverse, and those factors, whether depression, family problems or financial difficulties, are suddenly exacerbated upon being thrust into an alien world coupled with massive penalties looming in the immediate, dismal future.

None of that enters the picture for any other traffic infraction, despite that fact that many other offenses are far more dangerous than drink-driving. There are two billion uneventful incidents of drunk driving per year. Can you imagine 2 billion uneventful incidents of red light running? – Of course not, but nobody is carted off to jail for that offense, and nobody commits suicide over a traffic ticket issued for making a left turn after 4:00 PM.

Stephen Beck

I’d say that the DUI arrest ordeal is an experience at least 11.36 times worse than enjoying happy hour with friends at a cozy pub. The difference is black and white. It’s night and day.

Each year, about 1.5 million drivers are arrested for DUI. There are more than 3,300 local jails operated by county and municipal jurisdictions nationwide. Couple the 3,300 jails with the 3,000 DUI suicides nationwide per year and that’s a statistical distribution of about one DUI suicide per jail per year (0.9 per jail). Not to be ignored are the suicides in prisons – a distinct category apart from jails. Although not relevant to 3,000 jail deaths, one must not forget the uncountable suicides that occur after release from jail when the victims deal with the loss of jobs and homes as a result of “nothing more than a traffic offense.”

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Postby Catsratz on Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:54 pm

I was recently a database clerk in a probation office, (top-heavy with DWI "clients") and came across several suicides there in the cases I entered into the computer.

I also came across cases of people saying screw it, I'd rather just go to jail than stay on probation - that is just how horrible the New York probation system is.

I'd always figured the number of people killing themselves to get out of DWI-related grief - for the poor especially, it's an endless swamp of Catch-22s - must be pretty high indeed. This confirms it.
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Postby John on Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:56 pm

Any way one could get their hands on that kind of data, the number of DUI probationers who kill themselves?
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Postby Catsratz on Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:11 am

Not sure, John, as I left in February when I ran out of work. Actually, I was rather happy about that, as I didn't feel all that good working for that sort of operation.

Somebody should make a soap opera out of that place: Probation officers also getting DWI's, the executive secretary's grandson on probation for this, a P.O.'s husband arrested for this, Account Clerk and DWI-specialized P.O.'s continually talking about their own boozing and "former" pot smoking, the Director quite possibly an alchoholic herself but mighty preachy - the list goes on. And everyone still pretending that one DWI is such a shameful thing!!!

After reading the original post, with these startling numbers, I've also wondered how many more people get through the fines, jail, etc. then suicide due to the "fallout": Job losses, can't get insurance for/afford court-ordered "treatment," the terrible social stigmas, etc.

I've heard this whole farce/tragedy described as "The People Processing Industry" and what a damn good name it is for it it is!
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Postby jeanne_pruett on Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:05 am

By the way, anyone notice that Greg Reeves never did publish an article about RIDL. I kind of figured that would be the case.
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Postby Stephen Beck on Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:45 am

He's on vacation.

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Postby jeanne_pruett on Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:44 am

Here's an article about a potential DUI suicide gone bad. We wouldn't have heard about it at all if he'd tried some other method of suicide. Too bad someone else had to die. ... =461&rfi=9

Driver had been issued DUI citation

By: JEFF FARRELL, Staff Writer September 13, 2006

Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press

Tennessee State trooper Randy Hartsell, a sergeant with the agency’s Critical Incident Response Team, plots the scene Monday morning of a fatal vehicle accident.

SEVIERVILLE - Chuck Finchum was an optimist, the life of the community, his niece says. He had reason to be so happy. He had just learned his cancer was in remission.
And then Sunday night it all came crashing down. A vehicle driven by a local optometrist - who had been issued a DUI citation earlier this month - slammed into the enclosed porch of Finchum's house while he slept on a couch there. Finchum, 57, was killed. It happened around 6:30 p.m.

A truck driven by Dr. Edward W. Smith, 56, of 306 Grandview Drive in Kodak, apparently left the road, struck a tree in Finchum's yard at 4100 Newport Highway and went into the house. It happened around 6:30 p.m.

Smith was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where officials said Monday afternoon he was in stable condition.

The accident is still being investigated, and a team from Tennessee Highway Patrol was at the house Monday morning to try to reconstruct what happened.

Officials with the Knox County Sheriff's Department confirmed what Sevier County sheriff's officers had said on Monday: Smith had been booked at the jail in Knoxville on Sept. 1 on charges of driving under the influence.

Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff's Department say they had gone to Smith's home shortly before the wreck after a relative of Smith's called the department saying she was concerned about the optometrist's emotional state.

Reports that a suicide note was found inside Smith's truck are not true, according to several law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation.

Finchum's niece, Amy Love, said her uncle had learned shortly before his death that the lung cancer which had plagued him appeared to be in remission.

Finchum had helped host an auction Saturday to raise money for a friend who also has lung cancer, Love said. The tent used for that auction was still standing at the home of Finchum's brother, who lives across from Finchum's home.

Helping others was just typical behavior for her uncle, Love said.

"He's everybody's good friend," she said. "He was the life of the community."

District Attorney Jimmy Dunn said Monday night he had talked with officers involved in the investigation on two occasions, but said it's too early to discuss what might happen in the case. He said the incident remains under investigation.

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Postby Stephen Beck on Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:06 pm

It’s my understanding that many (no idea how many) of the single-vehicle, A-R accidents are in fact suicide crashes, but it’s difficult to prove suicide without a note or something. People opt to crash because life insurance policies don’t pay for suicides.

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Confession Time

Postby Gripewater on Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:15 pm

Previous suicide attempt(s) - no
History of mental disorders, particularly depression - depression
History of alcohol and substance abuse - no
Family history of suicide - no
Family history of child maltreatment - definitely not
Feelings of hopelessness -absolutely yes!
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies - occasionally impulsive, non agressive
Barriers to accessing mental health treatment - no
Loss (relational, social, work, or financial) - financial - horrible- financial
Physical illness - yes, chronic pain
Easy access to lethal methods - no
Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or suicidal thoughts - no
Cultural and religious beliefs—for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma - no, the opposite
Local epidemics of suicide - no
Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people - yes, in jail, absolutely

When I sat in jail, I almost did the "how can I end this turmoil in my life" thing in my head. I have NEVER been suicidal, and it never crosses my mind as a option because of course, the pain you leave behind and personally, I love myself, my child and husband too much to do that to them OR me, and frankly- I know there are worse things somewhere else than whatever drama is going on around me.

But still, I wonder if that man has ever been in jail? When I was sent to jail in my town (population 30,000) there was only 3 other women. But I still felt like I had just committed something of the equivalent to murder and therefore NO FORGIVENESS would be found for me. Because, how could I possibly forgive myself?

I suffer from depression and I take my meds for it and I have been fine now, since I have been on them. But when I go down, I really go down. Another reason I usually avoid alcohol because it is a depressant.

But loads of stuff has happened to be in the past three years that would leave you shaking your head thinking- seriously, all of THAT happened?
I have still survived it all and I am fighting tooth and nail daily to get our lives back to "normal" (think social security and workmans comp, inoperable and chronic pain)

The financial problems are the worst, next to my husband pain as well as my own back/hip/joint problems...(we are 36, and 37!) to add this charge into our current load was absolutely horrendous in my mind.

Inexcuseable and obviously, I must have deserved it somehow in a karma sense and therefore, deserved to rot in jail and hell etc. etc.

But a few days after my release, and the fog of depression lifting- and truth comes out about my situation with the law/arrest... it is clear I may NOT be at fault here, I may be a victim. They fight to not let you think that way, but I am slowly believing it myself and so are others around me.

But when I was in that jail I felt like there was no answers for this. I wouldn't ever think "I just wanna die" or dare attempt it - but only because of my responsibilities on earth as well as my upbringing in knowing that suicide is wrong- so lets make that clear- I would never act on it. But I could see easily how someone COULD do that in that situation. The isolation, and the way you are treated in jail is very, very abnormally unfriendly. Hostile, and charged. It is like the pack has asked you to leave and you are on your own- but we are going to monitor you from the glass window. You have been voted off the island.... and sure I can joke about it now but 8 hours sure gives you a lot of time to go over how horrible of a thing has just happened.

For people who have a lot on that list they may have answered yes to, I could see how easy for them (in that isolation) where they feel that is their only answer. It is sad, but I believe the DUI suicide numbers. Jail, and the jail keepers (except for one NICE officer who actually took time to explain what was happening to me once he understood I was absolutely clueless) was perhaps similar to what goes on at the local animal shelter. But I tend to think there is more love shown there. Plus some one else warm and fuzzy to curl up with to find comfort.

All but one man, was evil, in that place. If it hadn't been for him, I would have thought I was in another country and no one spoke the same langauage or cared enough to help me out. I was hysterically sobbing the entire time I was interviewed, etc.... and I was more of a inconvenience to my jailers than anything else. Would it hurt someone to consider maybe I needed my Klonopin?

That I perhaps was having a panic attack?

Two female guards openly mocked us all, scoffed at us. Treated us like we were animals. It was horrifying and I can only IMAGINE what it was like in the men's section where there was twice as many people.

Seriously. I don't doubt those numbers one bit.
Last edited by Gripewater on Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby jeanne_pruett on Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:25 am

Another reason I usually avoid alcohol because it is an antidpressant.

Actually, alcohol is a depressant. Not an anti-depressant.
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Postby Spot Lover on Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:26 pm

I've had two co-workers commit suicide by drinking, but not DUI.
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Alcohol = depressant

Postby Gripewater on Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:04 pm

Yes, Jeanne, that is what I meant.
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Postby jeanne_pruett on Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:21 pm

Sadly, another one

Man commits suicide while in police custody for DUI

By Associated PressTHURSTON COUNTY - Police are investigating the apparent suicide death of a man who was in custody under a DUI charge.

Police said they arrested the man around 8 p.m. Saturday night following a drunk driving crashed and placed him in a holding cell to sober up.

Around 3:30 a.m., police found him after he had apparently strangled himself with a phone cord.

Police said the cell is located in a high-traffic area of the jail, and the man was checked on several times. Police said the room is often used as overflow housing, and typically had a phone.

The man's identity or the official cause of death have not yet been released. A multi-jurisdictional task force will investigate the case.



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