Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thousands Will Kill Themselves Over the BP Gulf Tragedy - Updated

The reported suicide of a Gulf charter skipper begs comparison. There is no exact number, but many suspect at least 30 people in Alaska or who worked on or were ruined by the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) killed themselves over the succeeding 20 years, one as recently as last year. I knew three of the victims, one very well.

Alaska had about 500,000 residents at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

At least 11,000,000 gallons were spilled

Approximately 30 people killed themselves.

The gulf spill will likely effect areas with at least 40 million residents.

Unabated over the summer it may end up being 20 times larger than the EVOS.

Should that happen, following the Alaska model, there may be 48,000 suicides over the economic and emotional hardships brought on by the spill over the next 20 years.

I don't claim to be a statistician, so maybe somebody here can help me out, because the number seems high. I suspect the number of suicides over this during the next generation will be more in the 4,000 to 6,000 range, but it is all just guessing.

I've been thinking about this for days, but my own EVOS PTSD has held me back. I figure there have been other suicides over this already, that haven't been reported in context.

Updated - 3:00 a.m: Shannyn Moore has written eloquently on this same subject in the past few hours. Please go read her post, Dying Over Oil. It made me cry.


Melinda said...

There's really not enough data to draw any particular conclusions about the suicide rates. Intuitively, I would not expect the relationship to vary linearly with the gallons of oil spilled. Maybe with the economic losses, but even then I think it would be challenging to separate out possible confounding factors.

Even if there's just this one (which I also doubt) it is, I think, tragedy enough.

Anonymous said...

Let's also not forget that these are the same people that endured the hardships associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, etc. The suicide rate for survivors of Katrina, for example, tripled in the years following the storm. Considering that many businesses on the coast may have finally begun to function at pre-Katrina levels 5 years later only to have to once again try to overcome another disaster may prove to be more than they can handle.

Anonymous said...

Suicides are self centered with no thoughts other than their own selves. Crying over a selfish person is a waste of time.
And using the idea of having PTSD over Exxon is pathetic.

Celia Harrison said...

11,000,000 gallons of oil from the Exxon-Valdez resulted in 30 known suicides. The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster could result in 30 times the amount of the Exxon-Valdez spill(30 x 11,000,000=330,000,000)



Population of Alaska at the time of Exxon-Valdez spill=500,000. According to the census bureau the population of Louisiana is 4,492,076, of Alabama is 4,708,708, and of Mississippi is 2951996. Not factoring in Florida this total is 12,152,780.


But this is just ratios without the inclusion of Florida's populaton. There are many factors to account for including the fact that the people in Louisiana are getting more support. There are also cultural differences which could account for differences in emotional reactions to the oil disasters. As of yet we do not know how far this oil is going to spread. Many people who have subsuicidal behaviors such as alcoholic drinking or drug use(common problem post stress), including those they obtain from physicians will not be counted as suicides from the disaster. Also there will be people who develop heart disease, strokes, and other problems due to stress/trauma disorders. Then those who can't make a living may have difficulty getting healthy food or health care which can also contribute to deaths.