The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a fact sheet on suicide.
While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.
In addition, experiencing
- abuse, or
- loss and
- a sense of isolation
are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.
Suicide rates are also high amongst vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as
- refugees and migrants;
- indigenous peoples;
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons; and
Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.
For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.
79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally
Suicides are preventable. There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include:
- reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
- reporting by media in a responsible way;
- school-based interventions;
- introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol;
- early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress;
- training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour;
- follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.
Stigma, particularly surrounding mental disorders and suicide, means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help and are therefore not getting the help they need.
The prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to a lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it.
To date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy.
Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.
Only 80 Member States have good-quality vital registration data that can be used directly to estimate suicide rates. This problem of poor-quality mortality data is not unique to suicide, but given the sensitivity of suicide – and the illegality of suicidal behaviour in some countries – it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.
Link to the WHO fact sheet: