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Memphis Medical Monthly
Memphis Medical Monthly, established as the Mississippi Valley Medical Monthly, 1880 Memphis Lancet, established 1898.
LYCEUM BUILDING, MEMPHIS, TENN.
Subscription Per Annum, One Dollar in Advance.
Official Orgah of the Tri-State Medical Association of Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, Memphis Medical Society, and Yazoo Delta Medical Association. C. H. BRIGHT, BUSINESS MANAGER. RICHMOND MCKINNEY, M.D., EDITOR
SUICIDES IN THE UNITED STATES.
THE St. Louis Republic notes that "George P. Upton, formerly associate editor of the Chicago Tribune, in an article in the New York Independent shows that in thirteen years there have been 77,617 suicides in the United States, of which 57,317 were men and 20,400 were women. Of the professions, 535 physicians destroyed themselves, against 98 clergymen and 61 lawyers. The increase in the number of children who are
self-destructionists is a matter of comment.
"Life insurance statistics for 1902 show 2500 cases of suicide in fifty cities, St. Louis leading, Hoboken, Chicago, Oakland, New York, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Newark, Brooklyn, Boston, Indianapolis and New Orleans. It will prove a surprise to many that St. Louis should lead.
"Mr. Upton does not attempt to solve the problem beyond suggesting that the home exercise more authority in regulating appetites, passions and habits.' He adds that there might be more hope for the decrease of crime of all kinds if so many homes were not sending out so many boys and girls unwarned, undisciplined, uninstructed and unprotected.'
"We are living in an age," comments the Republic further, "when it is a constant battle in business and social circles and when every man and woman is under a more or less severe mental strain. We do not seek healthy, outdoor amusements as we should. Life is a severe struggle for the majority of people, and we are inclined to take life too seriously. In every class we are looking beyond. We are not, in other words, satisfied with environment and condition, but are struggling to reach a position beyond us. The natural result is that nervous systems become weakened. Suicide comes with abnormal nerve states. There is not a man or a woman but who at some time has said: What's the use?' If the nerve balance is destroyed at such a time a sudden impulse to suicide may overcome the normal will to live."-Alienist and Neurologist.
As an object lesson of the most lamentable phase of the struggles for existence none better could be found than this. Think of 77,617 suicides in the United States in thirteen years! One-half the population of the city of Memphis, to draw a striking comparison. No doubt many other factors enter into the causes of the increasing frequency of suicide, but we believe that every other influence is minimal in comparison with that of the steadily growing difficulty of earning a living in overcongested centers of population.
The tendency of people to gravitate to the large cities is marked, and denser and denser grows the population of the pauper districts of such places as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. Thus the chances of the bread winners grow less. Furthermore, every incoming passenger vessel from Europe brings its swarming hordes of indigent seekers of the golden dollars which they have been told cover the streets of the American Golconda. Of two million emigrants from Europe last year it is reported that nearly one-half of these came to the United States. And what proportion of these impoverished future citizens go to the country where they can always find work in abundance and a healthful life? We venture to say barely ten per cent. The majority remain to become parasites living on the community, and breed crime and disorder.
From the struggle for existence comes almost every other ill which is ascribed as a cause of suicide. If our pauper urban population and incoming swarms of immigrants could be induced to seek a living in the wheat fields and vineyards of the Northwest and West, and the sparsely-worked cotton fields of the South, the problem of living speedily would be solved and they, and the country at large, would profit beyond computation. Healthful occupation for the body, with good, nutritious food, begets the healthy mind, and with less diseased mentalities, which frequently are consequent on modern conditions of living in our great cities, the number of suicides would soon be reduced to a mere item in the mortality statistics of the United States instead of being, as now, one of considerable moment.
To this contention it may be urged that a large number of
suicides occur among people of wealth, who have not felt the strain of earning a living, but we would answer that even the most of these are individuals who have encountered financial difficulties and reverses, and after all, the influences may be regarded as pretty much the same. Investigation of the financial status of nearly all the business and professional men who suicide reveals the fact that rebuffs met in the struggle for existence is the cause of their self-sought destruction. Overcrowding is not confined to the ranks of the laborers.
MEDICAL SOCIETIES AND PHYSICIANS.
In pursuit of its study of matters pertaining to the education and medical organization of the physicians of the United States, the Journal of the American Medical Association gives some interesting information as to the proportion of regular physicians in each state who belong to the state medical societies.
It must be gratifying indeed to the physicians of Alabama to find their state at the head of the column, with a percentage of 61.49, Mississippi a little more than halving this with 38.03, Arkansas dropping still lower with 30.56, and Tennessee, sad to relate, coming toddling along with 29.19! And this in face of the fact that there are 3,428 recognized, and presumably eligible physicians practicing in the state. Is it not apparent to everyone that the profession of Tennessee and her neighboring states is away behind in medical organization? What more could be done toward securing the force and weight of coöperative effort in elevating the tone and legal standing of the medical profession than in obtaining a full membership of our state societies? Nothing illustrates better the lesson of that axiomatic saying, "In union there is strength." "A long pull, a strong pull and a pull all together" such as could be exerted in every state by a well-organized profession, would be the greatest instrument for the securing of legislation required for elevation of the standard of practice, and for the passage of laws conducive to hygiene and preventive medicine that could be used. With Alabama as an object lesson, why not unite in a strong effort to run the member
ship of the state societies of Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee up to at least as great a percentage as that of Alabama? Seventy-five per cent. is a mark not too far removed to be attained by united efforts, and we hope before long to find this not merely a dream but a realization.
COÖPERATION A NECESSITY.
THE Memphis Board of Health, under the able and effective administration of its president, Dr. Heber Jones, is instituting an active campaign for the betterment of birth statistics in this city. The imperative necessity for reliable records in this respect is evident to everyone, for in no other way can a proper estimate be made of the proportion of births to deaths, and the relative increase or decrease in population from this source. Also, a comparison of infant mortality with the birth rate can be obtained only by promptly made and carefully kept records of births.
Civic improvement frequently is gauged by health statistics, and every physician practicing in Memphis should unite with. the Board of Health in its endeavors to improve conditions pertaining thereto in every respect. The notable improvement in the health showing of Memphis during the past few years largely has been due to the energetic and well-aimed efforts of Dr. Jones and his capable assistant, Dr. Haase, secretary of the Board of Health, and they in every way invite the coöperation of the local profession. Could any more creditable showing be made by a city of the proportions of Memphis than our record during the usually unhealthy month of July? A total mortality among residents of 11.23 per thousand is a report in which much pride can be taken.
The pure food ordinance, now so effectually enforced, sanitary inspection, street sprinkling, etc., inaugurated by Dr. Jones' régimé, are creditable strides in civic improvement, and if the Board can secure that hearty and willing coöperation on the part of the local physicians which they are seeking in the reporting of infectious and contagious diseases and births, then truly shall ours have attained to a position of sanitary distinction among modern cities.
IN THE RIGHT PATH.
THROUGH the courtesy of Dr. Deering J. Roberts, secretary of the Tennessee State Medical Association, and editor of the Southern Practitioner, we have been supplied with an advance proof of an editorial to appear in the September issue of the latter journal, which takes for its cue an editorial in the August issue of the MONTHLY, and strongly endorses our position as to the reduction in the amount of the combined dues of the state and county societies. We are glad to have come to our support in this matter so esteemed a contemporary, and feel that Dr. Roberts' official position in the Association will give his words more than ordinary weight.
66 'REDUCE THE DUES."
In the August number of the Memphis Medical Monthly the leading editorial has the above heading, from which we quote the first paragraph, heartily endorsing it:
"In a recent issue of the Monthly we editorially advocated a reduction in the annual dues of the Tennessee State Medical Association from the present sum of two dollars to an amount more within the reach of the profession in general. This argument we note has given rise to considerable favorable comment, and we believe that it will receive strong support at the next meeting of the state association."
When the new constitution and by-laws was adopted at the meeting in Memphis, over two years ago, we earnestly advocated fixing the annual dues of the state association at the sum of one dollar, believing at the time, as we have been subsequently convinced, that it would suffice for the necessary expenses of the association. What we need is a "tax or tariff for revenue only," believing it to be both unwise and unnecessary to require more from the members than a sufficiency to pay the expenses of the association, economically administered. This, as we said we believed at that time and now know, would only require a per capita tax or assessment of one dollar per annum from each member. Those who advocated a higher tax at the time, claimed that the association was in debt, and that if after the debt was canceled, and we found that one dollar per annum from each member would suffice to meet the necessary expenses, we could easily reduce the assessment. This time has now arrived, and we sincerely hope that our able contemporary in Memphis will continue his efforts in this direction, promising to aid the measure so far as we possibly can.