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Suicide

Facts about suicide

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Some facts about suicide:

bulletInter-country comparisons: 1
bulletIndustrialized countries tend to have a higher suicide rate than poor, developing countries
bulletThe U.S. has a moderate suicide rate compared to other industrialized countries.
 
bulletInter-state/province comparisons:
bulletU.S. Suicide rates are highest in the western and rocky mountain states. They are are lowest in the Northeastern states.
 
bulletCanadian suicide rates are similar: highest in British Columbia, on the west coast, and lowest in Newfoundland, on the east coast.
 
bulletU.S. data: 2
bulletThere were 31,204 deaths by suicide recorded in 1995; 30,535 in 1997; 33,000 in 2006 (the latest data available at 2009-SEP-10). 5 The actual number is probably significantly higher, because many suicides are recorded as accidents.
 
bulletThe most common method that men use to commit suicide (58%)  involves firearms. Simply making firearms less easily accessible to a suicidal person can drastically reduce their chance of them taking their own life. Women more often choose poisoning (40%).
 
bulletMore females than males attempt suicide -- on average two to three times as often as men. 5
 
bulletMore males than females "succeed" at suicide, by a ratio of 4 to 1.
 
bulletComparison of groups within the U.S.:
bulletThe average suicide rate in the U.S. is about 11 per 100,000 per year. This amounts to one completed suicide every 16 minutes. 5
 
bulletBetween 1 and 2% of all the deaths in 1997 were by suicide. This compares to 31% from heart disease, 23 from cancer, 7% from stroke.
 
bulletWhites commit suicide at a higher rate, than African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics. However, in 2007,
"Hispanic female high school students in grades 9-12 reported a higher percentage of suicide attempts (14.0%) than their White, non-Hispanic (7.7%) or Black, non-Hispanic (9.9%) counterparts." 5
 
bulletYoung Native Americans have a very high suicide rate. "Among American Indians/Alaska Natives ages 15- to 34-years, suicide is the second leading cause of death." 5 Older Native Americans commit suicide less often than do Whites of the same age.
 
bulletMarried folks have a lower rate of suicide than do divorced, separated, widowed and single people.
 
bulletSuicide rates increase with age: 4
Age Suicide rate per 100,000
10 to 14 years 1.6
15 to 19 9.5
20 to 24 13.6
Whites over 85 65


bulletAbout one in three American teenagers has contemplated suicide. An Internet poll by About.com indicated that 50% of teens visiting that web site had considered it.
 
bulletSuicide is the eleventh leading cause of death among the entire population.
 
bulletSuicide has been reported as the second leading cause of death among teenagers, exceeded only by traffic accidents. However, the suicide rate among teens is actually lower than that of older persons. Teens tend to have few life-threatening illnesses. Teenage deaths from disease is quite low. Thus, the relatively few suicides among teens make suicide a leading cause of death. 3
 
bulletThe reported U.S. suicide rate for very young people (10 to 14 years of age) increased by 183% between 1970 and 1993. However, much of this increase may not be real. In the past, there was widespread denial that pre-teens could decide to end their lives.
 
bulletData concerning young homosexuals is somewhat unreliable. It appears that about one in three teen aged suicides is by a gay or lesbian. Since homosexuals represent only about 5% of the population, gays and lesbians are greatly over-represented.
 
bulletAmong the most common faith groups in the U.S., Protestants have the highest suicide rate; Roman Catholics are next; Jews have the lowest rate.
 
bulletFollowers of religions that strongly prohibit suicide, like Christianity and Islam, have a higher suicide rate than those religions which have no strong prohibition (e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism.) 
 
bulletA person has a higher risk of suicide if their parent, close relative or close friend has taken their own life.

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today. Some sources may have updated their information since we last downloaded it.

  1. Doug Martin, "Suicide as Deviance," at: http://www.nwmissouri.edu/
  2. "Suicide," at: http://library.thinkquest.org/
  3. "What is the second leading cause of death among teenagers." at: http://www0.mercurycenter.com/
  4. "Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention," National Institute of Mental Health, at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
  5. "Suicide: Facts at a Glance," Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009-Summer, at: http://www.cdc.gov

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Suicide > here

Copyright © 2000 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-FEB-9
Latest update: 2009-SEP-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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