According to the World Health Organisation almost one million people a year commit suicide. That’s one person every 40 seconds, a total which exceeds the number of lives lost each year to both homicide and war. This means that every minute of every hour of every day, someone somewhere finds death preferable to life. In the time it has taken you to read this, someone somewhere has just taken their own life.
A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
Suicide was recently ranked as the 12th leading cause of death worldwide and in the last five decades, the
suicide rate across the globe has increased by 60%. And the numbers are rising. Estimates say that by the year 2020, the figure will climb to 1.5 million annually. These numbers may actually be much higher. Difficulties in accurately determining cause of death as well as cultural/religious views affecting how deaths are reported make accurate worldwide figures almost impossible. The highest rates of suicide are generally found in Eastern Europe with the lowest found in Latin America and parts of Asia.
Suicide rates increase with age although more so for men than women with women’s rates peaking around age 35. Youth are less likely than adults to commit suicide
although there has been a recent, steady rise among teenagers. This has been blamed, in part, on media coverage and various forms of entertainment that idealise/romanticise suicide, leading to what the World Health Organisation called “imitation suicides”. Suicide was recently listed as the third leading cause of death worldwide in males aged 15-44 and for those over 75, the rate is roughly twice that.
Social, cultural and economic conditions are often factors. For adult males divorce is a major cause. Suicides following divorce are a staggering 400% higher for men than women. The primary reason for this is that legally and culturally (at least in
Western society) divorce proceedings traditionally favour the female. For elderly males the rates increase dramatically while decreasing among females. As a general rule, men often have a more difficult time adjusting to the loss of a life long spouse than women.
In relation to gender, suicide is far more common among men than women. Male rates are roughly four times higher than female although women are actually three to four times more likely to make an attempt. Men most often use an immediately lethal method where as with women it is more often a cry for help. The desire to die isn’t as intense and a “softer” method is attempted.