Suicide decline

There were an estimated 140,000 suicides in OECD countries in 2006, the most recent year for which internationally comparable data is available. Death rates were lowest in the southern European countries of Greece, Italy and Spain, as well as Mexico and the UK, at fewer than seven deaths per 100,000 people. They were highest in Korea, Hungary, Japan and Finland, at 18 or more deaths per 100,000 people.

Suicide rates have fallen in most OECD countries since 1990, most notably in Denmark, Luxembourg and Hungary, where they fell by at least 40%–although Hungary’s rate is still relatively high. By contrast, they rose in Japan, Korea and Mexico–Mexico’s rate being relatively low. In Korea, suicide among men almost tripled after 1990, reaching 32 per 100,000 in 2006; rates for women were the highest in the OECD area, at 13 per 100,000. Various factors have been blamed, including economic troubles, weakening social integration and the erosion of traditional family support for the elderly.

In general, suicide is three to four times more common among men than women in OECD countries. Suicide is also related to age, with people aged under 25 and the elderly especially at risk. Note, compiling statistics on suicide can be a challenge.

Visit www.oecd.org/health/healthdata

See also the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at www.oecd.org/els

©OECD Observer No 280, July 2010




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