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Sep 13, 2021

Life on Earth: A suicide every 40 seconds

Life on Earth: A suicide every 40 seconds September 10 is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day every year to promote global awareness. Despite the near-40 per cent fall in suicide rate in the last two decades, the number of suicides continues to grow with the growing population.

By Pushpita Dey · Sep 13, 2021

The world loses nearly 800,000 people to suicide every year - one every 40 seconds. Moreover, for every suicide, there are over 20 attempts to take one’s life, which translates to 16 million suicide attempts a year.

Suicides account for 1.3 per cent of deaths worldwide. There have been more deaths due to suicide in the last five years than due to malaria, HIV/AIDS, or breast cancer. The global suicide rate for 2019 was 9 per 100,000 population, with rates varying from fewer than two, in Venezuela and Colombia, to over 80 in Russia.

Kruxd. looks at what the numbers say about suicide across the globe.

Higher suicide rates in low and middle-income countries

77 per cent of the world’s suicides happen in low and middle-income countries. Suicide rates between 2015 and 2019 have seen a downward trend across countries of all economic indicators except the one in the lower middle income group. The drop in rate has been over 4 per cent in high income countries, over 5 per cent in upper middle income countries, and a negligble 0.6 per cent in low income countries. The rise in lower middle income countries, although negligible as well, stands at over 0.8 per cent.

Lower rate, but sharper rise in suicide among females

Global suicide rate among females stands at 5.4 per 100,000 population. In males, the number is over 2.3 times higher, at 12.6. However, despite lower rates, the rise in number of suicides between 2015 and 2019 has been sharper among females - by 2.5 per cent, from 229,378 to 235,145 - than among males - 2 per cent, from 513,583 to 523,882 .

Higher rate of suicide among young adults 

Data suggests that certain age groups are more likely to commit suicide, with studies revealing that a sizable chunk of suicide deaths happen in the age group of 20 to 40 years. People aged over 50 years, on the other hand, still account for up to 42 per cent of the world’s suicides. This age stratification has a socioeconomic aspect as well, with nearly 88 per cent of adolescent suicides occurring in low and middle-income countries.

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