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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chapter Six - Do The Math

***

Okay, students, sharpen your Number Two pencils and bust out some scrap paper. We're going to do the numbers. Now, don't make a bunch of noise - this isn't going to be new math, or fuzzy math, or anything even approaching algebra. It's just straight up arithmetic, just like when you were a yonker under pressure to get your homework done while there was still some light left in the sky on a mid-May weeknight.

I got these numbers from the Internet, Yo, because I believe the stuff I read online, absolutely - especially when it's data that I find on websites that end with Dot Guv. These are statistics provided by Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, like that.

***

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, at 3.2 incidents per 100,000 people. (That is, essentially, the population of the Kalamazoo area.) However, suicides among the age group of 10-14 year olds is 1 per 100,000. One in one hundred equals one percent, follow me, so one in one-hundred thousand is one one-thousandth of one percent. Suicide among children Charlie's age occurs one one-thousandth of a percent of the time.

Now, this thing here I'm about to demonstrate is called a "subset". Actually, the reduction of 3.2/100,000 to 1/100,000 by way of age grouping is already a subset, so the following are sub-subsets. (Some people prefer to call them "sublets", but then you've gone off into the weeds talking about real estate and such, you dig, so let's stick with subsets, please.)

Subset #1:  Two-thirds of the above-described one-in-a-hundred-thousand youth suicides are girls, savvy? Therefore, without getting out a compass and protractor, we can take Isosceles' Leap of Faith and say that one-third of the above-described youth suicides were boys, and I'll thank you for taking me at my word that my nephew Charlie was, in fact, a boy.

Subset #2:  Per HHS statistics, 50 percent of all "teen suicides" (For you philosophy majors, that's roughly half) are in whole or in part related to substance abuse - whether it was a causative factor or a contributing one. Charlie's toxicology report showed only a trace of caffeine in his system, which would have come from either candy or a soft drink. His system contained zero percent of anything else on their battery of tests... And, ah, he wasn't a teenager.

Subset #3:  25 percent of all suicides occur by way of "suffocation", according to the CDC. I'm sure there's a much smaller subset of kids who may tie plastic bags over their heads or entomb themselves in old refrigerators, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that one out of four people who kill themselves use a rope or a belt as their methodology... I think that's what that means.

I could parse this further if you wanted me to - by ethnicity, for example, or by ZIP code - but (A) you don't want me to, and (B) I don't think it's mathematically necessary at this point.

If you've been following along, you understand that (by reverse order of subsets) WMed's grim fairy tale is something that only takes place one-fourth of one-half of one-third of one-thousandth of one percent of the time, if that. To get to an actual decimal percentage of the chances of their story being factual, I'd have to use a slide rule, an abacus, and IBM's Deep Blue. Pythagoras shakes his head.

Based on what they actually profess to believe, what they would have the public swallow, WMED should specialize in looking for needles in haystacks. And I would advise them to definitely start playing the lottery. Oh, wait, I know - they should go exploring for Unicorns. In Narnia.

(At the very least, could they please tell us what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? Because, like, they're the only ones who could possibly know.)

***

Meanwhile, in the real world, accidental injuries are the leading cause of death among boys age 14 and under (if the National Institutes of Health are to be believed). Even with all age groups considered, any person who turns up dead, absent definitive evidence, is four times more likely to have died by accident than by suicide, and that percentage of likelihood declines drastically with every rung down the subset ladder.

In fact, if you do the minimum required homework, you'll find that there have only been a handful of 12-year old boys who have ever committed suicide by hanging in the last 5 years in the entire country, out of a pool of some 30 million subjects. All of those tragedies were bullying-related, an issue Charlie did not have.

So now, according to WMed, Charlie belongs to a subset all his own. He's one out of an infinite number, a freaking miracle discovery made by an otherwise obscure and unimportant pathologist named Joyce DeJong.

Why, that's like a scientist finding a new species of insect (in, say, Central Park). You could call it the DeJong Beetle, like "dung beetle", only different.

Those are facts. That's why you won't hear them coming out of anybody who works for WMed.

***

So. What factor might make a privately-paid "coroner" decide that something with a fourth of a half of a third of a thousandth of a percent chance of being true is more likely to have happened than the leading cause of death in the age group of the deceased? Especially when all testimony provided lends itself to a respectfully requested reconsideration?

I don't know... What made D.B. Cooper jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Profit motive is the only thing I can think of (well, in their case, a "nonprofit" motive). My inner voice says, it's the money, Stupid. The clams, the cabbage, the Simoleons. The Moolah. The Benjamins. C'mon.

They pull down millions of dollars doing this every year. It's the ultimate Body Shop. The contracts are locked in; St. Joseph County alone poured $337,355 into WMed's coffers in 2014... They kinda had to after WMed hired away their county coroner. Nice, eh? So St. Joe gets to send us their bodies and their taxpayers' cash.

Cold cash. So cold they keep it in a cooler.

And now that we've established that my nephew's tragedy has been twisted so nastily, and ostensibly done so for nothing more than mere mammon, I'd have to assume that there's almost nothing bad enough that could be said about these greedy bastards.

Charlie died nine months ago today. My sister could have had another baby by now for all of the dicking around that these bloody ghouls have done, with rotting flesh wedged up in their fangs, gold coins spilling out of their overstuffed pockets. Don't blame me if it's ugly. I'm just recording the events that I have witnessed...

That you, too, are going to witness.

pH 4.26.16

***

NEXT WEEK: Chapter Seven - "Scalpel"

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