Global suicide rate down by a third since 1990

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Takeaway

  • Although the global suicide mortality rate increased 6.7% between 1990 and 2016, the age standardized suicide mortality rate decreased by 32.7%, according to the 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study (GBDs).
  • The decrease in age-standardized suicide mortality in women was more than twice the decrease in men.
  • Suicide was among the 10 leading causes of death in Eastern Europe, Central Europe, high-income Asia Pacific, Australasia, and high-income North America.

Why this matters

  • The World Health Organization’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan calls for a 10% decrease in worldwide suicide mortality rates between 2012 and 2020.

Study design

  • This systematic analysis used data from GBDs 2016, which includes estimates of mortality resulting from 264 causes between 1990 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories.
  • This analysis included results for suicide as an aggregate cause of death.
  • Funding: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Key results

  • Global suicide mortality rate increased by 6.7% (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 0.4%-15.6%).
  • However, the age-standardized suicide mortality rate decreased by 32.7% (95% UI, 27.2%-36.6%).
  • Rate of decrease in age-standardized suicide mortality in women and men was 49.0% (95% UI, 42.6%-54.6%) and 23.8% (95% UI, 15.6%-32.7%), respectively.
  • Suicide was among 10 leading causes of death in 5/21 GDB defined regions.

Limitations

  • Variations in data quality.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD