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World Suicide Prevention Day 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010, Special release
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Every year about a million people in the world commit suicide, i.e. every 40 seconds a person takes his/her life. In 2009, 448 people in Slovenia committed suicide, on average one in 20 hours, which ranks Slovenia 4th among EU-27 Member States.





This year eighth World Suicide Prevention Day

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) proclaimed 10 September World Suicide Prevention Day in 2003. The purpose of this day is raising people’s awareness about the problem of suicide, reducing the stigma caused by suicide and especially pointing out that this type of premature mortality can be avoided.
Every year the day has a different central theme: this year it is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention Across the World”.

Every year about a million people in the world commit suicide

According to the WHO, suicide is becoming a pressing problem and an increasing burden on the developed society. According to IASP data, suicide is some countries among the leading causes of death in the world and one of the three leading causes of death in the group of persons younger than 25 years. According to estimates by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), every year between 10 and 20 million people try to commit suicide and about 1 million of them succeed, which is more than the total number people murdered or killed in wars combined. This means that every 30-40 seconds one person dies by suicide. In the last decade alone more than 10 million people in the world committed suicide.
In the past 45 years the number of deaths due to suicide increased by 60%. The WHO estimates that by 2020 the number of suicides will increase by half (to 1.5 million per year). Almost 30% of suicides in the world occur in India and China.
In some countries suicide is among the three leading causes of death among 15-44-year-olds and the second leading cause of death in people aged 10-24; these data do not include suicide attempts, which are up to 20-times more numerous than completed suicides.

In Europe more male than female suicides

In developed countries suicide among men is four times more frequent than suicide among women; and it seems that the difference is increasing.
Eurostat data show the highest suicide rate among men and women in Lithuania (56 men per 100,000 men and 9 women per 100,000 women), followed by Latvia and Hungary. The lowest suicide rates for men and women were observed in Southern Europe: Greece (5 men per 100,000 men and 1 woman per 100,000 women).

Health statistics in Slovenia also detects greater suicide risk among men; the male to female ratio is 3.9 to 1. According to data for 2008, Slovenia is 4th among EU-27 Member States with 29 male suicides per 100,000 men and 7 female suicides per 100,000 women. Compared to the year before, Slovenia moved up a place (in 2007 it was fifth behind Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia and Latvia).

Chart 1: Standardised suicide rate (per 100,000 population) by sex, EU-27 Member States, 2008


Source: http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide_rates/en/ 27. 7. 2010
Note: for LV, LT, AT, SK, DK and EL data are for 2007, for ES for 2006, and for BE and CY for 2004.

According to internationally comparable data on suicides, Slovenia has been among the most endangered countries for several decades. In the last half century (1959-2009) 27,309 people (21,067 men and 6,266 women) in Slovenia died of suicide, i.e. about three times as many men as women.

If we compare Slovenia and other European countries in terms of suicide, our country is among the ten most endangered countries, but it is encouraging that in the last decade a downward trend in suicide has been observed. In recent years the values of the suicide rate in Slovenia (i.e. the number of suicides per 100,000 population) was slightly lower but still over 25. In Europe the suicide rate is the highest in the so-called J-curve, which covers Finland, Russian Federation, Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia.

The fall in the number of suicides in Slovenia was first observed in 2004. In recent years the suicide rate decreased both for men and for women, but the decrease for men was slightly more pronounced.

In 2009, 448 people committed suicide, 351 men and 121 women. This means that every 42nd death in Slovenia was a suicide.

Chart 2: Number of deaths by suicide by sex, Slovenia, 1960-2009


Source: SURS and IVZ


Risk of suicide greater in older age groups

According to the Institute of Public Health, suicide in Slovenia grows with age. Older men commit suicide more often than older women.
Age brings about several risk factors for suicidal behaviour such as chronic disease, worse socio-economic status, partner’s death, loneliness and declining physical strength. In general, both in Slovenia and the world the suicide rates for older people (aged 65+) are higher than for the population as a whole; in Slovenia the rate for men is 90 and for women 20. Suicide attempts of older people more often end in death than suicide attempts of the people of all ages. For older people the sex ratio for suicides is almost 5 to 1 in favour of men. It has been established that in older people depression is more frequently (70%) linked to suicidal behaviour than in younger people. A higher suicide rate is also characteristic of divorced men and widowers.

A person who committed suicide in Slovenia is on average about 50 years old. The mean age of a person who committed suicide is two decades lower than the mean age of a person who died of natural causes; in other words, suicides shorten people’s lives on average by 20 years. The mean age of a person who attempted suicide but survived is much lower.

Suicide rates of young people are also growing

Experts dealing with young people and especially with problems they face are finding that people between 14 and 19 years of age frequently suffer from depression, which is a result of various factors such as family problems, school problems, peers problems and frequently also child abuse. In Slovenia suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among people younger than 25 years. Among young people in Slovenia suicide is the most frequent between the ages of 14 and 19; in this age group up to 20 suicides are recorded every year, which ranks Slovenia slightly above the EU average. Due to a lower number of deaths linked to various age-related diseases, suicide accounts for 28% of all deaths of young people in our country.

Large regional differences in suicide

As regards the incidence of suicide by statistical regions, Slovenia is actually a small Europe, since the differences in suicide rates between regions are more than three-fold, which experts explain by the temperament of people and the economic situation in the region.
In 2009, when the suicide rate in Slovenia was 22 per 100,000 population, the highest rate was observed in Pomuska (30.1) and Koroška (29.0) statistical regions and in Jugovzhodna Slovenija (28.3); in Osrednjeslovenska (15.3), Goriška (16.0) and Obalno-kraška (17.5) statistical regions the incidence of suicide was much lower.
The differences between statistical regions are also different by sex. In 2009, the highest suicide rates for women among regions (the rate for Slovenia was 9.4) were observed in Notranjsko-kraška (19.4), Pomurska (14.7) and Savinjska (13.9) statistical regions and the lowest in Jugovzhodna Slovenija (1.4), Spodnjaposavska (2.9) and Goriška (3.4) statistical regions. As regards men (the suicide rate for Slovenia was 35.0), the highest rates were observed in Jugovzhodna Slovenija (55.0), Koroška (46.7) and Pomurska (46.4) statistical regions and the lowest in Osrednjeslovenska (22.8), Notranjsko-kraška (26.9), Goriška (28.8) and Obalno-kraška (29.9) statistical regions.
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