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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/45

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41
THE JEWS: RACE AND ENVIRONMENT

1849-55 it was rare among them, only 46.4 per million Jews, as against 49.6 among catholics, and 159.9 among protestants. It so increased in frequency that during 1869-72 it was, Jews 96, catholics 69 and protestants 187; and the increase during the following years was so severe that the Jews outstripped the christians during 1892-1901.

 

Rates of Suicide pee 1,000,000 Population

Men Women
Jews 370.4 124.1
Christians 321.5 81.1

All these figures show conclusively that the rates of suicide among the Jews are not at all influenced by ethnic factors. The social environment is solely responsible for the infrequency of self-destruction among the Jews in eastern Europe, where they live in strict adherence to their faith and traditions; while in western Europe, where they comingle with their christian neighbors, adopting their habits and customs, the rates of suicide increase. Considering that there is a lesser number of children among the Jews, and that suicide is rare among the young, and that they are mostly town dwellers, engaged in mercantile and financial pursuits, there is good reason for the higher rates among them than among others. Further proof of the influence of environment is adduced by the fact that with a change of environment there is also a perceptible change in the suicide rates. The Jewish immigrants in New York city are much given to self-destruction, although in their native homes suicide is very rare. There are no available statistics as to the exact annual number of Jewish suicides in New York city, but an inquiry by Mr. John Paley, editor of a Yiddish daily, elicited the following information: "About fifteen years ago suicide was uncommon among the immigrant Jews, so much so that I always gave each case reported a prominent place in my paper. To-day conditions have changed. There are so many cases of Jewish suicides that unless it is a prominent person, or there are special news features connected with the case, I do not at all mention it in the columns of my daily." He estimates that there are six Jewish suicides on the average weekly in New York City. If this figure is near the truth, and I am inclined to believe it is, then the suicide rate among the Jews in New York is appalling. The aversion to self-destruction of the eastern European Jew is thus seen not to be racial. As soon as he is brought face to face with a more complex life in New York City, as soon as his devotion to his religion is more or less dwindling, any serious reverse in life is liable to discourage him to the extent of causing him to terminate his existence.

 

IV. Natural Increase of Population

From the preceding studies it was evident that the birth, marriage and death rates were everywhere in Europe lower among the Jews than