Global suicide rates are down

Men are still most at risk

The level of people dying by suicide has fallen by more than a third since 1990, a BMJ study has revealed.

The research, conducted in 2016, record 817,000 suicides that year – a 6.7 per cent increase on 1990. However, when adjusted according to population growth, experts found a decrease of 32.7 per cent (with suicide causing 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people).

Heather Orpana, a research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada who worked on the study, said: “Suicide is considered a preventable cause of death and this study shows that we should continue in our efforts towards suicide prevention.

“With further efforts we could take further reductions in suicide mortality.”


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Some 800,000 people are estimated to kill themselves every year, according to the World Health Organisation, which lists suicide as a critical public health issue. It has set a target of a 10 per cent decrease in suicides by 2020.

But while the rate at which people die by suicide appears to slow, men are still far more at risk of suicide than women.

Women accounted for seven deaths per 100,000; men were counted at more than double, at 15.6 deaths per 100,000. This applied to all regions and age groups, apart from among 15-19 year olds.

“Sometimes we might look at suicide as a different kind of health outcome than, say, cardiovascular disease or cancer, which are considered more traditional,” Orpana told AFP. “But what the similar rate (fall) may be telling us is that suicide may be similar to other health outcomes, and in some ways may be driven by similar factors.”

However despite the overall downward trend, Orpana said no countries are expected to meet the goal of a one-third reduction in suicide mortality by 2030.

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