Men are still more likely to kill themselves than women in all regions around the world and age groups, apart from 15-19 year-olds, study shows Photo: AFP/File
world

Suicide rate falls by a third globally: data

15 Comments
By Patrick Galey

Suicides have fallen globally by more than a third since 1990, according to a far-reaching analysis released Thursday that highlighted profound differences in the number of men and women taking their own lives.

The World Health Organization lists suicide as a critical public health issue and estimates at least 800,000 people kill themselves every year.

Although reporting of deaths from self-harm varies between nations, data models devised by the team behind the Global Burden of Disease -- which tracks all known causes of death by country -- show a clear downward trend in global suicide rates.

In results published in the BMJ journal, the study estimated that 817,000 people killed themselves in 2016 -- a slight increase of 6.7 percent since 1990.

However, as the global population has boomed over the last three decades, the team found that the rate of suicide adjusted for age and population size fell from 16.6 to 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people -- a plunge of 32.7 percent.

"Suicide is considered a preventable cause of death and this study shows that we should continue in our efforts towards suicide prevention," said Heather Orpana, research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada and a collaborator on the study. "With further efforts we could take further reductions in suicide mortality."

The Global Burden of Disease analysis, conducted each year by the Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation, a think tank partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, estimates mortality by cause, location, age and gender extrapolated from hundreds of data sources.

While welcoming the overall downwards trend, the team behind Thursday's paper warned that in several regions of the world suicide was still among the leading causes of years of lives lost.

In 2016, 34.6 million years of life were lost globally from suicide -- that is, the age when suicide deaths occur compared with average life expectancy in a given region or nation.

In addition, men were still more likely to kill themselves than women in all regions and age groups, apart from 15-19 year-olds, though the analysis did not speculate why.

"Mortality rates were generally higher for men but there was considerable variability between men and women depending on the age, and even the country," Orpana told AFP.

Globally, men hugely outpaced women for suicides, suffering 15.6 deaths per 100,000 compared with 7.0 for women.

The study found that the overall global mortality rate, including all causes of deaths, had fallen by more than 30 percent since 1990, something often attributed to having fewer people living in absolute poverty and better access to healthcare.

Orpana said the fact that both suicide deaths and overall mortality fell in close proximity suggested that suicide might be better tackled if treated as just another illness.

"Sometimes we might look at suicide as a different kind of health outcome than, say, cardiovascular disease or cancer, which are considered more traditional," she said. "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."

The WHO has targeted a 10 percent cut in global suicide rates by 2020.

But the study authors highlighted huge variations in suicide trends on a country-by-country basis.

Whereas in China the average rate of suicide deaths fell 64.1 percent since 1990, in places such as Zimbabwe the rate had almost doubled in the same time-span.

"We are seeing what is an important reduction in global suicide mortality. But those reductions have not been consistent across regions, countries, sex or ages," said Orpana.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
Login to comment

Good.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Isn't this just a statistical anomaly? If the suicidal people all commited suicide, then statistically there would less suicidal people around, resulting in fewer suicides.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've known far too many people who left this planet way before their time. I hope the suicide rate continues to fall.

That said, if it comes down to terminal illness, I'll be making the proper arrangements.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hmmm...articles here on JT have stated numerous times over the past few years that suicide rates in Japan have been falling to record lows, yet according to the chart above here there has been an increase of over 10% overall during the period as well.

So do we believe the statistics of the NPA, National Police Agency, or this?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

And yet there is a media frenzy in a number of countries about how social media promotes self harm and suicide in teens.

Maybe like climate change, weather isn't climate.  so here, isolated incidents don't reflect the trend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hmmm...articles here on JT have stated numerous times over the past few years that suicide rates in Japan have been falling to record lows, yet according to the chart above here there has been an increase of over 10% overall during the period as well.

So do we believe the statistics of the NPA, National Police Agency, or this?

There is no inconsistency between the NPA statistics and this article. The article does not state that suicides in Japan have increased; Japan isn't even mentioned.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

There is no inconsistency between the NPA statistics and this article. The article does not state that suicides in Japan have increased; Japan isn't even mentioned.

Did I state anything about the article?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

articles here on JT have stated numerous times over the past few years that suicide rates in Japan have been falling to record lows

I don’t believe you are correct on this. That is not what the articles have stated.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don’t believe you are correct on this. That is not what the articles have stated.

Just a couple weeks ago.

Suicides in Japan down for 9th straight year to 37-year low in 2018 ...

Jan 18, 2019 ... The number of suicides in Japan dropped 3.4 percent from a year ... The suicide rates are still high I know, but let's not forget that the act of ... READ

https://japantoday.com/category/national/suicides-in-japan-down-for-9th-straight-year-to-37-yr-low-in-2018

FYI, just a few weeks ago, and 9 years in a row the numbers were dropping so how can there be an overall increase from 1990 to 2016?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sadly enough in my country of birth this trend is going the opposite direction for a certain demographic. The article below is from May 2013 but the condition has continued to get worse at the same or a faster rate.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201305/white-middle-age-suicide-in-america-skyrockets

0 ( +0 / -0 )

while and drop in suicides is good news , its hard to believe statistics that are compiled by the J gov, too much wishywashy shite in manipulating figures.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yubaru - those articles are not claiming ‘record lows’.

And to go back to your original question, suicides have dropped significantly over the past decade, after they climbed for over a decade previous. Look at the dates on that chart.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Yubaru,

That 37-year low headline seems quite wrong when looking at the chart at the link below (the article content is no longer there). Perhaps they meant it is now lower than the rate of 37 years ago. But since then it dropped considerably and then rose again. The lowest point appears to have been in the mid 1990s. (I can't say how accurate the chart at the link is.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

articles here on JT have stated numerous times over the past few years that suicide rates in Japan have been falling to record lows, yet according to the chart above here there has been an increase of over 10% overall during the period as well.

The chart compares 2016 with 1990. Thats a long stretch of time. Suicide rates have been falling in recent years in Japan, and most articles on this are referring to 2017 or even 2018, and comparing rates with the previous few years, not with anything so far back as 1990.

Also worth remembering that 1990 was just about the end of the bubble economy. The economy started going downhill right about then, which may have had some influence on the number of suicides.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did I state anything about the article?

No, you did not. You referenced the graph.

I stand corrected and appreciate being called out.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites