Suicide rate falls by a third globally, data shows

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

Written by Newsroom Staff February 7, 2019 11:07

New Delhi: 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.

Credits: AFP

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