Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Round, round she goes where she stops...

From time to time we like to break away from the more global termination points, and address issues of individual finality.

Russian roulette and risk-taking behavior: a medical examiner study
Shields LB, Hunsaker JC 3rd, Stewart DM.Am Journal of  Forensic Medicine and  Pathology, March 2008 (hat tip: MR).

Fatal Russian roulette refers to death following an act of extreme bravado in which the individual spins the cylinder of a revolver loaded with at least one cartridge, aims the muzzle at the head, and pulls the trigger. The majority of victims are men younger than 30 years who, in the presence of others, are under the influence of ethanol or other drugs. This is a 10-year (1993-2002) retrospective review of self-inflicted gunshot wounds of the head, among which we culled and paid special attention to cases of Russian roulette, at the Medical Examiners' Offices in Kentucky. Of the 24 incidents of Russian roulette, the majority of victims were white (79.2%), and all were men between 14 and 47 years with a mean age of 24.8 years. Compared with other cephalic firearm suicides, the subjects engaging in Russian roulette were significantly more likely to have elevated blood levels (> or = 0.1%) of ethanol along with various drugs detected in urine. Although the presumed intent of the risky act is to survive, Russian roulette is deemed to be suicide, which is based on a comprehensive understanding of the inherently deliberate, volitional actions of the decedent.

Of course if you play Russian roulette, and get to use somebody else as the target, they might call you a derivatives trader.


JaneofVirginia said...

I always subscribed to the idea that Russian roulette players were simply crazy and only obtained "courage" from alcohol. How strange that so many of us have to work to remain alive and that some of us treat our lives so carelessly.

russell1200 said...

Russian Roulette is on the extreme end the motorcylce helmet law argement. Since everyone else has to clean up the mess, "X" needs to be restricted. Of course Russian Roulette is so extreme it is easy to restrict, but hard to enforce.

John D. Wheeler said...

The true roulette they did in Russia was an act of desperation, not bravado. The stakes were that each player brought his entire life savings. The winners divided up equally what the loser brought. I would not be surprised to see something like this arise again in the collapse.

It's interesting you mention motorcycle helmets. Pennsylvania recently repealed its requirement that motorcycle riders wear helmets. The rumor I've heard is that they found they were spending too much money on rehabilitating the survivors.

russell1200 said...

It sounds like an interesting way to rationalize bravado. But one suspects Kentuckians are not aware of the Russian Rules.

What you describe is more-or-less, one of the economic rationals for gambling in general. It is one of the few ways for unbanked people to create a seed fund. Aaron Brown is one of the authors who has discussed this.