August 16, 2007

AN UPTICK IN ARMY SUICIDES: James Joyner thinks it’s random variation, and notes the small numbers involved: “We had a spike of more than 11 percent from 2005 to 2006. That’s huge. But it represents 11 individual soldiers. The preliminary numbers indicate that the rate will likely decline for 2007. That’s despite a surge in the number of soldiers deployed to Iraq and an increase in the combat tempo. If that holds, it almost surely means that the 2006 spike is largely random variation in a complex phenomenon.” Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Tam notes something rather crucial:

In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army.

This leads her to comment: “Y’know, I don’t mind being jerked around a little bit, Mr. Reporter, but if you want your propaganda headline to work better, you really shouldn’t include the raw numbers. It makes me feel like you think I’m dumb.”

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