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Suicide: Statistics, Warning Signs and Prevention

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire

Suicide is the act by which a person deliberately takes his own life. Suicidal behavior refers to any deliberate action by which one endangers his life, such as drug overdose or deliberate involvement in a car accident. Suicide involves not only the tragic loss of a life but also the sadness of others. There is no doubt that depression is a major cause of suicidal behavior. Of those who take their own lives, many have experienced major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Suicide statistics

Approximately 0.5% – 1.4% of people commit suicide. Worldwide, suicide is the 10th cause of death, with approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 deaths per year, which means a mortality rate of more than 11 out of 100,000 people per year.

The suicide rate has increased by 60% since 1960, with higher values being registered, in particular, in developing countries. Each successful suicide attempt corresponds to between 10 and 40 unsuccessful attempts.

The rate of suicide differs significantly from one country to another, but also over time.

In 2008, the following percentages of deaths were recorded:

  • Africa 0.5%
  • Southeast Asia 1.9%
  • the Americas 1.2%
  • Europe 1.4%

The rates per 100,000 inhabitants were:

  • Australia 8.6
  • Canada 11.1
  • China 12.7
  • India 23.2
  • United Kingdom 7.6
  • United States 11.4

In 2009, suicide was the 10th  , with approximately 36,000 cases per year. To this is added the number of 650,000 people who arrive annually at the emergency department of hospitals following attempted suicide.

Lithuania, Japan and Hungary recorded the highest rates of suicide. Countries with the largest number of suicides are China and India, with over half of the total. In China, suicide is the 5th cause of death in terms of importance.

In the Western countries and well-developed countries, the suicide rate in men is 4 times higher than in women, although suicide attempts among women are 4 times as numerous. This is because men resort to more lethal means to put an end to their lives. The difference is even more pronounced in people over the age of 65, where the suicide rate is 10 times higher for males, than for women.

China has one of the highest female suicide rates worldwide, being the only country where this rate is higher than for men.

In many countries, the suicide rate is higher in middle-aged or elderly people. However, most suicides occur between 15 and 29 years, due to the higher number of people in this age group.

In the United States, suicide cases are more prevalent in Caucasian white men of over 80 years old, although suicide attempts are more prevalent among young people. Suicide is the second most common cause of death in adolescents, and in young men, it is the second cause after accidental death.

Suicide causes and ‘symptoms’

Suicidal behavior occurs almost always in people with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and alcohol addicted.

People who have suicidal attempts often try to get rid of a disturbing life situation which seems to be impossible to resolve otherwise.

Many believe that death could be a solution for negative thoughts or feelings, such as the feeling of shame or guilt, or the feeling of rejection, loss, or loneliness.

Suicidal behaviors can be triggered by a situation or event that a person considers to be overwhelming, such as:

  • Aging (the number of elderly people who commit suicide is the highest)
  • The death of a loved one
  • Addiction to alcohol or other drugs
  • Emotional trauma
  • Serious physical illnesses
  • Unemployment or financial problems

Most people who develop suicidal thoughts have already been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or some mental disorders. As a result, they may continue to show symptoms of these diseases even if they are being treated. Often, but not always, certain signs or behaviors may worsen, following the suicidal tendency.

Therefore, may occur:

  • Difficulty in concentration or clear thinking
  • Sudden change of behavior, especially sudden calmness after a period of anxiety
  • Loss of interest for activities that were previously enjoyable
  • Self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, illicit drugs, or self-medication)
  • Diminishing school or work performance
  • Discussions about death or suicide and even expressing the desire to do harm
  • Discussions that focus on lack of hope and guilt
  • Unusual changes in sleep or eating habits
  • Avoiding friends and refusing to go out anywhere

Suicide warning signs

Some of these signs include:

  • Despair or feelings of helplessness
  • Various messages in which they try in writing or verbally to say goodbye to those around them
  • Dramatic changes in personality or appearance
  • Bizarre or irrational behavior
  • Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or reflection
  • Changing sleep or feeding habits
  • Diminishing school or professional performance
  • Liquidation or provision of material goods and business ordering
  • Lack of interest for the future
  • Self-medication, such as the administration of overdoses that may be fatal

Another warning sign is the self-mutilation.

Self-mutilation means any behavior that involves deliberate action of causing pain or harm to one’s own person.

This includes cutting, burning, hitting, overdosing legal drugs or illegal drugs, starving, alcohol abuse, or repeatedly putting himself in dangerous situations.

Self-mutilation is a reaction, a response to suffering, often associated with one or more mental illnesses. In short, some people think this is a way to alleviate the mental stress they face in the short term.

Even if those who do not want to commit suicide do not necessarily want to commit suicide, the act of self-mutilation often becomes compulsive and dangerous and requires professional help.

Suicide prevention

If you think that a friend or relative might be going to hurt himself in any way, you should not worry quietly. You have to discuss openly and directly with the person in question, but also with other professionals such as a psychotherapist or school counselor, for example.

A suicide attempt must be reported to specialist doctors, who must provide support to the victim in a number of ways.

Though it may be difficult to accept, but immediate action must be taken, because a person who once tried to take his life is still seriously determined and might try it out again. Family, friends, along with specialists must provide support and help to overcome the painful and confusing moment.

It could be helpful for you to learn different ways to stop a friend or relative who is up for such thing. Ask for a specialist help in this regard.

An important step that can prevent suicide is to treat mental disorder that leads to thoughts of self-mutilation and/or suicide.


Currently, the most effective ways to treat mental illness are those in which the medication and psycho-social rehabilitation programs are associated. Also, family co-operation and support are very important.

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Suicide: Statistics, Warning Signs and Prevention
Suicide is the act by which a person deliberately takes his own life. Suicidal behavior refers to any deliberate action by which one endangers his life, such as drug overdose or deliberate involvement in a car accident. Suicide involves not only the tragic loss of a life but also the sadness of others.
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