Facts about Suicide

How many people die by suicide? 

  1. Around one million people complete suicide each year worldwide. This figure is higher than the combined numbers of people who die by homicide and war. It is also higher than the number of people who die in road traffic accidents in most European countries12
  2. Suicide rates in Ireland doubled between 1987 and 1998 and appear to have levelled off since that time. Between 2000 and 2002 it was estimated about 500 people per year completed suicide. This figure is average when compared with other European Union (EU) countries3
  3. There were 486 deaths by suicide registered in 2010 (386 were male, 100 were female). Men between 35-44 were the most vulverable to suicide, with 109 men in this age group taking their own lives23
  4. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people. The rate of youth suicide in Ireland is the fifth highest in the EU at 15.7 per 100,000 for 15-24 year olds4
  5. In Ireland, rates for completed suicide are notably high among young men aged 16–34 years, who accounted for almost 40% of deaths by suicide in 20034
  6. A study of young Irish men aged 18-34 years revealed that 78% knew someone who had died by suicide, 42% knew more than one person, and 17% had a close friend who completed suicide5
  7. For each person who dies by suicide it has been estimated that at least 6 other people are affected25.

What makes people more likely to attempt suicide?

  1. A history of attempted suicide is said to be the strongest predictor of eventual suicide67
  2. People who have engaged in Deliberate Self Harm are said to be 100 times more likely to complete suicide than the general population8
  3. People who are socially isolated in cities and those living in rural regions, particularly in farming communities, have higher completed suicide rates than in the general population910
  4. People diagnosed with a psychiatric illnesses, such as affective disorders, personality disorders and psychosis, are around 7-10 times more likely to complete suicide than the general population10
  5. Up to 50% of suicides are associated with the presence of alcohol. Irish records suggest that alcohol use was involved in almost half of male deliberate self-harm episodes, and in 39% of female deliberate self-harm episodes in 200311 4
  6. Other factors which make people more likely to die by suicide include social instability, limited education, poor employment, low self-esteem and family history of mental illness 12 13 14 15
  7. In Ireland the increase in suicide rates has been associated with contextual change over the past two decades such as economic boom and downfall, growth in multiculturalism, emigration return, and lessening of church influence 12 13
  8. Researchers have proposed that there is a distinct group of people who have 2 or more genuine suicide attempts that are characteristically different from people who attempt suicide once, in that they are more likely to have a diagnosis or co-morbidity of disorders. The PISA intervention was designed for this population 24

Why are young people more likely to attempt suicide?

  1. Youth suicide has been associated with an increase in the prevalence of depressive disorders and substance abuse, increased life pressures, changes in attitudes towards suicidal behaviour making it a more acceptable response to stress, and an increase in the availability of suicide methods 16 17 18
  2. Youth suicide has also been associated with increased exposure to media violence 19
  3. Other factors which have been associated with youth suicide include family disruption, poor conflict resolution, unhealthy communication patterns and family break-up 20 21
  4. Young Irish people identified relationship problems, concern with sexual orientation, educational stress, abusive experiences, and family disharmony as significant contributory factors in suicidality and DSH 22


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