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Suicide rate per 100,000 males (data from 1978–2008)
     no data      < 1      1–5      5–5.8      5.8–8.5      8.5–12      12–19      19–22.5      22.5–26      26–29.5      29.5–33      33–36.5      >36.5
Suicide rate per 100,000 females (data from 1978–2008)
     no data      < 1      1–5      5–5.8      5.8–8.5      8.5–12      12–19      19–22.5      22.5–26      26–29.5      29.5–33      33–36.5      >36.5

Incidence of suicide is under-reported due to both religious and social pressures, and possibly completely unreported in some areas. Nevertheless, from reported cases, certain trends are apparent. Since the data is skewed, comparing suicide rates between nations is statistically unsound. The trends themselves are not the cause, but may be indicative of a root cause.



Suicides per 100,000 people per year:[1][2]
Rank Country Year Males Females Total
1. Lithuania 2005 68.1 12.9 38.6
2. Belarus 2003 63.3 10.3 35.1
3. Russia 2004 61.6 10.7 34.3
4. Kazakhstan 2003 51.0 8.9 29.2
5. Slovenia 2003 45.0 12.0 28.1
6. Hungary 2003 44.9 12.0 27.7
7. Latvia 2004 42.9 8.5 24.3
8. Japan 2004 35.6 12.8 24.0
9. Ukraine 2004 43.0 7.3 23.8
10. Sri Lanka 1996 NA NA 21.6

A 2006 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that nearly a million people take their own lives every year, more than those murdered or killed in war.[3] WHO figures show a suicide takes place somewhere in the world every 40 seconds. Suicide rates are highest in Europe's Baltic states, where around 40 people per 100,000 die by suicide each year, second in line is in the Sub-Saharan Africa where 32 people per 100,000 die by suicide each year. The lowest rates are found mainly in Latin America and a few countries in Asia.[4]

In 1998, the World Health Organization ranked suicide as the twelfth leading cause of death worldwide.[5]

In most countries the incidence of suicides is higher than the incidence of intentional homicides.

As many as 60,000 people commit suicide in Russia every year;[6] approximately 30,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States;[7] over 30,000 kill themselves in Japan;[8] and about 250,000 commit suicide each year in China.[9] In western countries men commit suicide at four times the rate of women. Women are more likely to attempt suicide than men.[10] The countries of the former Soviet Bloc have the highest suicide rate in the world.[11] The region with the lowest suicide rate is Latin America.[12] Up to at least the 1950s, it was the Republic of Ireland which had the lowest suicide rate in the world, as reported by an Irish TV news report in 2007. In India, suicide rates for women are nearly three times higher than those for men. Higher suicide rates among women have been reported in China.[13]

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide contagion is a serious problem, especially for young people. Suicide can be facilitated in vulnerable teens by exposure to real or fictional accounts of suicide, including media coverage of suicide, such as intensive reporting of the suicide of a celebrity or idol.[14]

U.S. Suicides by age, gender, and racial or ethnic group, 1999–2005. Data from the CDC [1]. Racial and ethnic groups defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Gender and suicide

In the United States, males are four times more likely to die by suicide than females. Male suicide rates are higher than females in all age groups (the ratio varies from 3:1 to 10:1). In other western countries, males are also much more likely to die by suicide than females (usually by a factor of 3–4:1). It was the 8th leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading cause of death for females.[15] Excess male mortality from suicide is also evident from data from non-Western countries.

Race and suicide

By race, in the United States, caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than are people of Native American descent or Hispanics.[16] There is a marked divergence by age as seen in the chart below. In the eastern portion of the world (primarily in Asian or Pacific-Island countries) the growing numbers of reported suicides is growing every year.[17] Suicide rates for younger people of original descent and caucasians are approximately equal, but older caucasians, elderly caucasian men especially, commit suicide far more often than older men of original descent. However, of all ethnic groups in the United States, Native Americans, people of mixed race, and Filipino Americans have the highest risk of suicide.

United States suicide rates for white men, by Health Service Area, 1988–1992. This map and the map below use the same color scale: note the large difference in rates between men and women. The regional patterns for men and women are similar, but not the same.
United States suicide rates for white women, by Health Service Area, 1988–1992.

Sexual orientation and suicide

Gay and bisexual male youths are over 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual male youths.[18] No such difference was found between lesbian and straight female youths.[19] Gay and lesbian youth who attempt suicide are disproportionately subject to anti-gay attitudes, and have weaker skills for coping with discrimination, isolation, and loneliness,[20][21][22] and were more likely to experience family rejection[23] than those who do not attempt suicide. Another study found that gay and bisexual boys who attempted suicide had more feminine gender roles, adopted an LGB identity at a young age and were more likely than peers to report sexual abuse, drug abuse, and arrests for misconduct.[24]

One study found that same-sex sexual behavior, but not homosexual attraction or homosexual identity, was significantly predictive of suicide among Norwegian adolescents.[25] In Denmark, the age-adjusted suicide mortality risk for men in registered domestic partnerships was nearly eight times greater than for men with positive histories of heterosexual marriage and nearly twice as high for men who had never married.[26]

Social factors and suicide

Higher levels of social and national cohesion reduce suicide rates. Suicide levels are highest among the retired, unemployed, impoverished, divorced, the childless, urbanites, empty nesters, and other people who live alone. Suicide rates also rise during times of economic uncertainty (although poverty is not a direct cause, it can contribute to the risk of suicide). Epidemiological studies generally show a relationship between suicide or suicidal behaviors and socio-economic disadvantage, including limited educational achievement, homelessness, unemployment, economic dependence and contact with the police or justice system.[27] War is always associated with a steep fall in suicides; for example, during World War I and World War II the rate fell markedly, even in neutral countries.[citation needed]

Health and suicide

Depression, either unipolar or as part of bipolar disorder, is an especially common cause. Substance abuse, severe physical disease or infirmity are also recognized causes.

An unknown amount of suicide fatalities are misdiagnosed as consequences of severe illness.

Suicides by month and day of week for the United States, 1999–2004. Data from the CDC [2].

Season and suicide

The idea that suicide is more common during the winter holidays (including Christmas in the northern hemisphere) is actually a myth, generally reinforced by media coverage associating suicide with the holiday season. The National Center for Health Statistics found that suicides drop during the winter months, and peak during spring and early summer.[28] Considering that there is a correlation between the winter season and rates of depression,[29] there are theories that this might be accounted for by capability to commit suicide [30] and relative cheerfulness.[31] Suicide has also been linked to other seasonal factors.[32]

The variation in suicides by day of week is actually greater than any seasonal variation. In the United States, more people die by suicide on Monday than any other day; Saturday is the day with the least number of suicides.

Suicide trends

Certain time trends can be related to the type of death. In the United Kingdom, for example, the steady rise in suicides from 1945 to 1965 was curtailed following the removal of carbon monoxide from domestic gas supplies which occurred with the change from coal gas to natural gas. Methods vary across cultures, and the easy availability of lethal agents and materials plays a role.

It is estimated that global annual suicide fatalities could rise to 1.5 million by 2020. Worldwide, suicide ranks among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years. Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.[33]

Suicide and body mass index

Risk of suicide decreases with increased body mass index in the United States.[34]

Risk of suicide decreases with increased weight and is low in obese persons.[34]

Suicide and religion

Suicide rates are shown to be higher in low religious environments. [35]


  1. ^ Table of WHO suicide rates by gender as of December 2005.
  2. ^ WHO country reports and charts for suicide rates retrieved June 6, 2006.
  3. ^ "Suicide prevention". WHO Sites: Mental Health. World Health Organization. February 16, 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  4. ^ Staff (2002). "Self-directed violence" (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  5. ^ Staff (2006). "Suicide Statistics". Befrienders Worldwide. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  6. ^ 60,000 people commit suicide in Russia annually
  7. ^ Suicide, Facts
  8. ^ Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 9th straight year
  9. ^ 250,000 Chinese Kill Themselves Annually: Official
  10. ^ "The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America - Suicide". National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  11. ^ Highest Suicide Rates in the World
  12. ^ More killed by suicide than war
  13. ^ South India suicide is world high
  14. ^ Staff (December 1999). "Frequently Asked Questions about Suicide". NIMH: Suicide Prevention. National Institute of Mental Health (United States). Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  15. ^ "Teen Suicide Statistics". Adolescent Teenage Suicide Prevention. 2001. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  16. ^ Hoyert, Donna; Melonie P. Heron, Ph.D.; Sherry L. Murphy, B.S.; Hsiang-Ching Kung, Ph.D. (2006-04-19). "Deaths: Final Data for 2003" (PDF). National Vital Statistics Report (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) 54 (13). Retrieved 2006-07-22. 
  17. ^ "Epidemiology of Suicide". Behind Asia's Epidemic. Marten Publications. 2008. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  18. ^ Bagley C, Tremblay P (1997). "Suicidal behaviors in homosexual and bisexual males". Crisis 18 (1): 24–34. PMID 9141776. 
  19. ^ Remafedi G, French S, Story M, Resnick MD, Blum R (January 1998). "The relationship between suicide risk and sexual orientation: results of a population-based study". Am J Public Health 88 (1): 57–60. doi:10.2105/AJPH.88.1.57. PMID 9584034. 
  20. ^ ed. Sandfort, T; et al. Lesbian and Gay Studies: An Introductory, Interdisciplinary Approach. Chapter 2.
  21. ^ Rotheram-Borus MJ, Piacentini J, Miller S, Graae F, Castro-Blanco D (May 1994). "Brief cognitive-behavioral treatment for adolescent suicide attempters and their families". J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 33 (4): 508–17. doi:10.1097/00004583-199405000-00009. PMID 8005904. 
  22. ^ Proctor CD, Groze VK (September 1994). "Risk factors for suicide among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths". Soc Work 39 (5): 504–13. PMID 7939864. 
  23. ^ Ryan C, Huebner D, Diaz RM, Sanchez J (January 2009). "Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults". Pediatrics 123 (1): 346–52. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3524. PMID 19117902. 
  24. ^ Remafedi G, Farrow JA, Deisher RW (June 1991). "Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth". Pediatrics 87 (6): 869–75. PMID 2034492. 
  25. ^ Wichstrøm L, Hegna K (February 2003). "Sexual orientation and suicide attempt: a longitudinal study of the general Norwegian adolescent population". J Abnorm Psychol 112 (1): 144–51. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.112.1.144. PMID 12653422. 
  26. ^ Mathy RM, Cochran SD, Olsen J, Mays VM (December 2009). "The association between relationship markers of sexual orientation and suicide: Denmark, 1990-2001". Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. doi:10.1007/s00127-009-0177-3. PMID 20033129. 
  27. ^ Diego De Leo & Russell Evans (Griffith University) (2003). "International Suicide Rates: Recent Trends and Implications for Australia" (PDF). Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.$File/intsui.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  28. ^ NPR: Study: Suicides Drop During Holidays
  29. ^ See Seasonal affective disorder
  30. ^ "lack the ability to organize their own death. Later,..."
  31. ^ See section on "Season"
  32. ^ Study carried out by the Finnish National Public Health Institute
  33. ^ Staff (February 16, 2006). "SUPRE". WHO sites: Mental Health. World Health Organization. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  34. ^ a b Mukamal KJ, Rimm EB, Kawachi I, O'Reilly EJ, Calle EE, Miller M (November 2009). "Body Mass Index and Risk of Suicide Among One Million US Adults". Epidemiology 21 (1): 82–6. doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181c1fa2d. PMID 19907331. 
  35. ^ A global perspective in the epidemiology of suicide by JM Bertolote

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