The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately 800,000 people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. Although the overall worldwide the average suicide rate is declining, many countries have increasing rates and suicide continues to be a major preventable cause of loss of life
- Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female).
- Suicide attempts are over 20 times more frequent than deaths by suicide.
- Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst elderly males in many countries, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of all countries.
- Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide in higher economic level countries, but a large proportions of suicides in many lower and middle income countries are not associated with mental health disorders.
- However, suicide results from many complex sociocultural factors and is more likely to occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis (e.g. loss of a loved one, unemployment, sexual orientation, difficulties with developing one's identity, disassociation from one's community or other social/belief group, and honour).
The WHO also states that:
- Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China.
- Suicides globally by age are as follows: 55% are aged between 15 to 44 years and 45% are aged 45 years and over.
In the US, the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention reports that:
- Overall, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all US Americans, and is the third leading cause of death for young people 15-24 years.
- Although suicide is a serious problem among the young and adults, death rates continue to be highest among older adults ages 65 years and over.
- Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than are females. However, females are more likely to attempt suicide than males.
Suicide within minority groups
Research indicates that suicide rates appear to be increasing within native and indigenous populations as well as within migrant communities.
For further information about indigenous populations:
Suicide Among Minority Groups - www.the-bright-side.org
Aboriginal Communities - www.suicideinfo.ca
Many countries recognise the need and positive impact of Suicide Prevention Strategies, and are working to ensure they are in place. The WHO States:
- Strategies involving restriction of access to common methods of suicide have proved to be effective in reducing suicide rates.
- There is still a need to adopt multi-sectoral approaches involving other levels of intervention and activities, such as crisis centres.
- There is compelling evidence indicating that adequate prevention and treatment of depression, alcohol and substance abuse can reduce suicide rates.
- School-based interventions involving crisis management, self-esteem enhancement and the development of coping skills and healthy decision making have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of suicide among the youth.
Further suicide prevention links:
Suicide Prevention (SUPRE) - www.who.int/mental_health/prevention
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention - www.cdc.gov
Suicide Prevention among Native Americans - www.ihs.gov - click onto ‘Nationwide Programs and Initiatives'.
World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) - www.wfmh.com
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) www.med.uio.no/iasp/index