Global Suicide Trends: Still one person every 40 seconds

Suicide is not a rare event if the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 800 000 - 1 000 000  people die by suicide in the world each year. There is regional variation in suicide rates across the world. In 2016 just over 222 000 young people aged 10-29 years were recorded as having committed suicide. According to WHO Global Health Estimates 2016, in the 15-29 year old group, suicide accounted for about 200 000 deaths compared to 400 000 deaths by road traffic accidents. Of these statistics about 125 000 young men had died by sucide, compared to 170 000 by interpersonal violence. For females about 80 000 had died by suicide compared to 150 000 from child birth or other maternal conditions.

79% of sucides occured in low-middle income countries and sucide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide. In 2016 the sucide rate in the world was estimated at 11 per 100 000 population ( 14 per 100 000  for males and 7.5 per 100 000 for females). The overall sucide rate in Europe and South-East Asia appeared with be about 13 per 100 000. 

In the United Kingdom data available last from 2013 showed that the sucide rate across the whole population had been stabel over the last forty years at 8 per 100 000 population; 10 per 100 000 population for male and 3 per 100 000 population for female. 4824 casesof sucide were recorded in 2013.

In the USA for 2014 the overall sucide rate was estimated at around 20 per 100 000 for males and 12 per 100 000 for males and 5 per 100 000 for females. The USA is a much larger country that the UK and the population in the USA have ready access to guns, as a means of suicide. Although these numbers are similar to 1979, the suicide rate went up slightly then down again after 9/11 and then up again in the last five years. 42769 cases of sucide were recorded.

In 2011 in the Russian Federation 31038 suicides were recorded with an overall sucide rate of 20 per 100 000, with 34 per 100 000 for men and 7 per 100 000 for women. In 1992 the suicide rate for men had been recorded at 70 per 100 000, with an overall rate of 39 per 100 000 population.

In areas of the world where there are higher rates of unemployment, coinciding with higher per capita rates of alcohol consumption there are higher rates of depression and suicide. Between 1980-1990 the overall suicide rate in Hungary was 40 per 100 000 (60 per 100 000 for males). However in 2014 the suicide rate overall was recorded at 15 per 100 000 ( 25 per 100 000), with an increase in sucides with age rather than a peak in the 25-45 year age group. However only 1925 cases of sucide were recorded in the whole country.

In Japan although the sucide rate from 2014 was about 15 per 100 000, the rate was higher since 1996. In Japan 24357 case of suicide were recorded.

There is no available data for mainland China, although records for Hing Kong from 2013 show a sucide rate of 10 per 100 000 population with 997 recorded suicides. There is no WHO record of suicide rates for India either in the 2016 report. The suicide rate in Thailand from was reported at abotu 5 per 100 000 population overall in 2014 and 3952 suicides were recorded.

Sri Lanka had recorded suicide rates of about 40 per 100 000 in 1983 (55 per 100 000 male, and 22 per 100 000 female). In 1996 the suicide rate was 32 per 100 000 overall. Between 1996 and 20009 there was ongoing civil unrest in Sri Lanka. The last available data from 2006 from a total of 4015 cases suggested an overall suicde rate of 21 per 100 000.

According to WHO in 2016 after data being age standardized, Guyana, South America had the world's highest suicide of 30.2 per 100 000. Second was Lesotho with a suicide rate of 28.9 per 100 000, with more female than male suicides, which was also recorded in Myanmar, China, Bangladesh and Antigua. Russia had the highest male suicide rate of 48.3 per 100 000. The overall sucide rate in India was estimated at 16.5 per 100 000 popultation and for China 8 per 100 000 population and for South Korea 20.2 per 100 000 population.

Without the methodology of age standardisation, Greenland has the highest suicide rate in the world of 83 per 100 000 population with a male rate of 117 per 100 000. Most had died by violent means with highest rates in the 15-24 years in a society characterised by poverty, latitude in the Arctic Circle and a population of Inuit Eskimos interfacing with Western Culture. The suicide rate had peaked in the summer months when extended daylight time may have rendered many of the popultation with insomnia, predisposing to depression and suicidal thinking.

Suicide most often arises form depression. Therefore suicide prevention methods are aligned to identifying and treating depression young people. Inaddition young people would have to make lifestyle changes and make progress in education, training and employment.

Data on Global Suicide Trends are difficult to interpret easily without detailed knowledge of the context for people living in differnet regions of that country. More details could be considered in China and India regarding their reporting suicide rates. In areas of conflict in Africa and the Middle East suicide rates may appear lower. Maybe if you are fighting to stay alive their is little time for suicidal preoccupation. Many countries under-report suicides if their is doubt and open verdicts are reported instead.

Hopefully this overview has give some interesting insight into global suicide trends, and helps us wonder how we would think about the issue differently if all the data form the world was complete.

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