Data show that Calhoun Countians suffer — and die — from high rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. Each of those made the CDC’s 2010 top-15 killers list released earlier this week.
The trend that made national headlines was the absence of homicides from that list. Though homicides had never ranked as high as heart disease or cancer, dying at the hand of another person had not fallen from the CDC’s ranking since 1965.
The rub, of course, is that this is where Calhoun County strays from the CDC data. That trend can’t be ignored, either.
As examined in last Sunday’s Star, 2011 was a terrible year for Calhoun County, which recorded 18 homicides — just two killings shy of the record 20 of 2008. Investigators classified seven of last year’s homicides as domestic incidents. The oldest victim was 74. The youngest was 17.
One was Justin Sollohub, an Anniston Police officer who was killed in August.
The parallel is worthy of residents’ attention. Though they’re from differing years — the CDC report is for ’10, the county homicide data is for ’11 — the comparisons of living conditions in Calhoun County and the CDC report can’t be overstated.
Health-wise, the CDC has reaffirmed what medical officials here have long said: our diets, exercise habits and sedentary lifestyles represent a killer combination. Calhoun Countians, like Alabamians as a whole, eat too many Southern delicacies and fast food and exercise too little.
The homicide comparison is harder to follow. Police are quick to say — rightly — that there’s often little they can do to stop a domestic quarrel from turning violent. Too many violent acts happen in the heat of private arguments.
Yet, whether cyclical or coincidence, it’s telling that homicides have fallen from CDC rankings at a time when Calhoun County has recorded its worst two homicide totals in the last three years.
Bucking a national trend is fine — as long as it’s for the better. That’s certainly not the case here.