AP Misleads, Protects Rear

Here’s a good example of the MSM trick of headlining misleading information, then only partially correcting it when most readers will have stopped reading.

Headline:

U.S. Army Suicide Rate at Highest Level Since 1993

Damaging Lead Paragraphs:

The number of U.S. Army soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides. In 2005, a total of 83 soldiers committed suicide, compared with 67 in 2004, and 60 in 2003 — the year the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Four other deaths in 2005 are being investigated as possible suicides but have not yet been confirmed. The totals include active duty Army soldiers and deployed National Guard and Reserve troops.

Below The Fold (my emphasis):

The suicide rate for the Army has routinely fluctuated over the past 25 years, from a high of 15.8 per 100,000 in 1985 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year it was nearly 13 per 100,000.

The Army rate is higher than the civilian suicide rate for 2003, which was 10.8 per 100,000, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the Army number tracked closely with the rate for civilians aged 18-34, which was 12.19 per 100,000 in 2003.

This is still misleading, since AP compares the U.S Army – disproportionally male – with all civilians, 50% female.

Two button clicks gets these numbers from the CDC for all races, male, civilian suicide rates in 2003:

Age 15-25: 16.0

Age 25-34: 20.6

Absent the exact distribution of suicide with age in the range 15-25, we can’t compute exactly the rate for 18-34, but it will likely be somewhere between these two rates – perhaps 18. That is way above the U.S Army rate.

So the piece should have been headlined:

In Spite Of War, U.S. Army Suicide Rate Less Than Civilians


Instead, the enemies of freedom drip another drop of poison.

UPDATE: April 23

More data and detailed modeling confirms the civilian population in the age range 20-34 with the same sex ratio as the U.S. Army does indeed commit suicide at the rate of 18 per 100,000 – a rate almost 40% higher than the Army!

Sources:
CDC death rates at 4 year intervals (big PDF)
WaPo: female army recruits are 17%

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