The “Need to Know” of Statistics on Suicide
By Becky Barton

Mental illness carries a stigma that professionals and patients alike fight daily to abolish.  Despite the available statistics on suicide, suicide seems to be one issue that many people hesitate to discuss or acknowledge.  But sweeping it under the rug does not make the problem disappear.  In fact, this stigma and blatant disregard for the subject is the worst approach to take.  ‘Out of sight’ does not mean ‘out of mind,’ when it comes to mental health.  And it certainly does not solve anything.

Statistics on Suicide – A suicide every 40 seconds

There has been a disturbing increase in suicide rates worldwide in the last few years, for both males and females.  In fact, suicide is now among the top four causes of death in people between puberty and age 45.  Homicides now rank far lower on the cause-of-death scale.  The homicide rate has decreased by at least half, but each year the estimated number of suicides is about 800,000.  This averages about one completed suicide every 40 seconds.

There are many factors and subcategories that make up these scary statistics.  These include gender within different age groups, percentage differences in suicide rates between males and females, the number of attempts, and the ways in which each attempt occurred.  We understand how overwhelming it can be to try to understand and analyse those statistics.  So we want to try to crunch some of the numbers for you, to help more people make sense of this rising threat to the lives of our loved ones.

The UK suicide death toll – 6,200 in 2015

Age groups are one of the most common primary categories for suicide rate stats.  Studies in the US show that in the last 20 years, the suicide rate among young people aged 15-19 doubled for girls and increased more than 30% for boys.

In the UK, the suicide death toll registered at almost 6,200 in 2015.  The number of men who completed an attempt was lower than in previous years, but suicide is still the number one cause of death for males under the age of 45 throughout the UK.  The number of women who committed suicide has increased and continues to rise each year.

The youngest recorded death by intentional suicide was of a six-year-old girl, and every day, children of all ages attempt and complete suicide.  In the past, suicide before the age of 16 was rare.  Now the statistics show that younger children are harming themselves on purpose more often each year, and that the number of self-harm induced deaths in children is on the rise.

Some suicide deaths go undocumented

Also, keep in mind that some suicide deaths go undocumented.  Not for lack of interest or official negligence, but because in some cases, suicide may be difficult to determine beyond a reasonable doubt.  For example if someone dies from certain types of poisoning, it could take months or years to conclude whether the death was accidental, suicide, or homicide.  Or if someone falls from a dangerous height, authorities may never discover whether the person meant to jump, or simply fell unintentionally to his or her death.

know the signs of suicide

No single cause or explanation fits

Experts worldwide have many theories about the increase in suicide stats and self-harm in general. High-pressure jobs and economic crises play a role in some of today’s completed suicides.  In teens and young adults, cyberbullying and lack of education and support can contribute to self-inflicted deaths.  No single cause or explanation fits, because each individual case is unique to each victim.  Medical professionals work constantly with the stats, to appeal to people at high risk.  They aim to decrease the number of suicide attempts and completions each year.

An alarming rise

Whatever the poll by which we measure, the country you live in, or the possible reasons, the horrible truth is that suicide attempts and completions are on an alarming rise.   Mental health specialists and advocates all agree that it is critical to spread the word about the increasing suicide stats.   Raising awareness about the ways to seek help is even more crucial.  Anyone who has considered harming themselves needs help, no matter how briefly the thought lingered or how quickly it passed.

Help prevent suicide

They also strongly encourage anyone who knows someone who has talked about feeling depressed or suicidal to take the following steps.  Believe everything they tell you.  Offer sympathy and support rather than ridicule or distractions.  Convince them to see a doctor or join a support group as quickly as possible.  There is no such thing as taking mental illness too seriously, but blowing off someone who trusts us enough to reach out and ask for our help could worsen a very serious condition.

suicide helplines

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