For the second year in a row, a resident of L.A. County is more likely to die by their own hand than be killed by someone else.
In 2010, suicides were essentially unchanged — down 1% — from 2009, and they remained above pre-recession levels, according to statistics from the L.A. County coroner. There were more suicides last year — 786 — than homicides, a departure from the historical pattern.
Here's a chart assembled with data from the county coroner's office, going back to 1992. The rate declined steadily since in the early 90s, but went up again starting in 2007.
CDC statistics also show a national decline in the suicide rate from the early 90s through the mid 00s. National data for the last three years isn't available yet, but a year ago the Wall Street Journal compiled data from 19 states that also showed an increase in suicides from 2007 to 2008.
It's not possible to tie the recent increase conclusively to the recession. For obvious reasons, the coroner's office doesn't keep track of why people kill themselves. The answer, if it is knowable at all, is complicated and likely involves depression or other mental illness. But experts told the Journal that suicide rates tend to be linked with higher unemployment.
Homicide rates also fell dramatically, starting in the early 90s. But since the recession, homicides have kept on falling, unlike the suicide rate. Here's a chart showing the decline in homicides in L.A. plotted against suicides.
In 1992, there were twice as many homicides as suicides. The lines crossed in 2009.