We are constantly reminded to fear the crumbling of inner cities and the dangers which lurk in their crime-ridden streets by conservative news outlets like nj.com and the Star Ledger here in NJ. They sensationalize murder because the “if it bleeds, it leads” motto supposedly gets better ratings. An article on nj.com screamed about the “epic” threshold of 100 homicides reached in Newark, NJ for 2013, with only 3 days left in the year. In reality, this was actually the first uptick after a 6 year decline. While they urge suburbanites to cower in fear that this epidemic will somehow reach them, they don’t confront the everyday menace staring them in the face. That menace is suicide.
Out of the 280,000 people in Newark alone, there were 100 homicides, most if not all committed by illegal guns. That is an incident rate of .04% of the population. So out of 280,000 residents arguing, fighting and disrespecting each other, 100 in total were killed in 362 days of 2013. While at the same time 27 people in the suburbs died committing suicide just by throwing themselves in front of a train. That is not the total number of suicides however. The most recent Center for Disease Control statistics from 2010 show a steady increase from 1999. Then the number was 615. In 2010, the suicide number in NJ was 719.
Notice that the light gray areas where there are less than 6 suicides, are in the major cities where there are the most people, “crime” and poverty. In these areas there were less than 6 suicides, but around 100 murders. To be fair, the 100 number is just for Newark alone. It doesn’t count Trenton and Camden, not to mention Jersey City, East Orange, Irvington, Asbury Park or Plainfield, all given the reputation of being so-called “black” areas with high crime rates. The total for the state is pointed out in typical alarmist nj.com fashion by a writer for the Star Ledger named James Queally. The article titled, “N.J. homicides soared to seven-year high in 2013 after surges in Newark, Trenton”, starts off with the following quote;
“Driven by unprecedented bloodshed in Trenton and the most violent 12-month stretch in Newark in nearly a quarter-century, homicides across New Jersey jumped to a seven-year high in 2013, a spike prosecutors and police officials tied to understaffed departments and a growing disregard for life.
Yes, that’s the number of homicides in NJ for 2013, 409, and it might seem like a huge number if we didn’t know there were around 719 suicides in the suburbs for the same period. The article attributed comments to the Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio, as having said it was “indicative of the culture of violence.” Really?
“This new young generation is the most violent — and has the most disregard for life — that I’ve seen in my 28 years of law enforcement here in Newark,” DeMaio said. “Every generation just seems to keep getting worse and worse and worse. These kids have no expectation to live past 25, and why should they?”
This negative attitude by DeMaio may work internally somehow to motivate police officers to do their job, but it’s a sloppy and hyperbolic statement, that caters to the fear in people. It would have been a much stronger statement to say that all around the state, murder rates have been dropping. From Camden to Atlantic City to Union County and Hudson County, murders have gone down. Where is the culture of violence there? None of these areas come close to the 100 murders reported in Newark for the entire year. Scary Trenton with almost 85,000 people had a stunning 37 homicides, most of which were gun-related. What percentage of the population is that? Seriously? This is the “unprecedented bloodshed in Trenton,” that the writer mentioned; 37 dead out of 85,000. The culture of violence is not so strong that people are being beaten to death in massive numbers. The numbers of homicides among everyone in NJ (409) are mostly related to gun violence, not necessarily just person on person violence, if you can see the distinction. Remember 27 people died in NJ just by jumping in front of a train in 2013. That is surely a violent way to die and causes not only family grief, but distress to the people around the victim/perpetrator. But that method accounts for less than 8% of the suicides in NJ. Here, 40% of the suicides are by hanging and around 29% are by firearm.
There is all sorts of violence in the Garden State, especially the kind that is self-inflicted, like suicide. This seems to be the most preventable form of person-induced death, but it is pushed to the back of New Jerseyans consciousness for sensational headlines related to the “black” areas and homicide. It’s pure boogeymanism peddled by propagandists like the James Queally, who earns his money by contributing to the culture war on nj.com. Does he not realize that suicide and overdose death are much more of a pressing problem to his readers? Most people who read the nj.com website or the Star-Ledger for that matter, aren’t affected by the homicides in Newark. Of the 280,000 people in Newark, most of them aren’t even fully affected by the 100 homicides in Newark in 2013 either. The inflation of the homicide statistic to scare people is an old tactic that can easily be debunked in the information age by a logical person with common sense. You can research the numbers yourself. The real reason to promote statistics in the way they do in mass media, is to influence the minds of the audience toward fear of the other.