Suicide is one of the biggest killers across the globe, more so than homicide and war put together. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around one million people die each year by suicide, which equates to one death every 40 seconds. Though suicide attempts are 20 times the number of actual suicides, it is estimated that 5% of us attempt suicide at least once in our lives.
Suicidal behaviour tends to increase with age, being high among middle-aged and older adults, particularly those over 75. However, it is still the second cause of death worldwide among 15-19 year olds.
Although women attempt suicide two to three times more often than men, suicide is more common among men, with three males to every one female taking their own lives. The reason given for this is that men are more aggressive and have higher intent to die so therefore use more lethal means.
Suicide rates are highest in Eastern European countries, such as Lithuania and Russia, and lowest in countries of Central and South America, such as Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
Although anyone can be susceptible to suicide, certain groups are more at risk:
- Individuals with a history of suicide attempts or self-harm – this is a strong predictor of suicide.
- Individuals with a psychiatric disorder and/or substance-related disorders – around 50% of people who consider suicide have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder during their life and up to 90% of people who die by suicide have at least one psychiatric diagnosis.
- Individuals who experience stressful life events - relationship breakdowns, financial/job difficulties, bereavement, physical illness, childhood trauma can lead to suicide attempts or suicide as people feel unable to cope.