World Facts

Suicide Rates By Country

Over the last 45 years, suicide rates have been steadily increasing. Using data provided by the World Health Organization, we analyzed the countries with the highest suicide rates in the world today.

Sadly, a general trend we are seeing globally today is one of more and more people acting upon suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Suicide knows no demographic or socioeconomic bounds, and the countries with the highest rates are a quite diversified group. Within, there are small and big countries, rich and poor countries, and African, Asian, European, and American countries. For this reason, we feel it’s worth looking at some common threads that these nations do share, and hope that our investigation may give us some prospective solutions to turn around this disturbing global trend of increased suicide rates.

Sri Lanka and Guyana's Spike in Suicides

Both Sri Lanka and Guyana reported a high rate of suicide per 100,000 inhabitants, at 24.6 and 30.6 respectively. Suicide is considered to be a social crisis in both of these countries, and it is prevalent enough to be counted as a common cause of unnatural death. In Sri Lanka, almost 4,000 people commit suicide every year, the majority of whom are between the ages of 15 and 44. It is a pattern that has been growing since the 1970s. In Guyana, the suicide rate is not heavily studied. It has been reported, however, that the most common method of committing suicide in Guyana is through drinking agricultural pesticides - about 40% of suicide cases are said to result from this. For every female suicide in Guyana, there are 3.2 male suicides.

Former Socialist Republics of Europe

Looking deeper into the listed countries there are far more interesting trends to be discovered. Out of the top 25, five were either formerly part of the former Soviet Union or other Eastern Bloc nations under the influence of the USSR. Most of these countries have very high expectations when it comes to catching up with the rest of the European region, and the economic pressure the citizens are under might often end up in suicidal behaviors. Sadly, these countries have foreign relations issues lingering from the Cold War, and many have seen their economic situations worsen since the fall of Communist regimes and the Soviet Bloc in 1989 and the early 1990s.

Two former USSR countries can be found in the top ten: Kazakhstan and Lithuania. Kazakhstan has the highest number of recorded suicides among girls aged 15 to 19 in the world. A 2009 UNICEF report from 2009 stated that the number of suicides among young Kazakh youth has increased by 23% between 1999 and 2008. In Lithuania, financial problems among citizens is thought to be a major contributing factor to the suicide rate, a trend that was said to have been started by the Russian economic crisis of 1998. In 2015, Kazakhstan and Lithuania saw a suicide rate of 27.5 and 26.1, respectively.

South Korea: A Developed Economy with a High Suicide Rates

In 2015, South Korea reported 24.1 suicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Unlike many of the other entries on the list, South Korea sticks out for having a highly developed economy. South Korea considers suicide to be a problem that is not only very serious, but also unfortunately rather widespread. It is the highest rate for any member of the OECD. Suicide in South Korea is particularly common among the elderly, a fact that is closely related to the high level of poverty found among senior citizens (half of South Korea's elderly population lives below the poverty line). It is said that many elderly citizens may commit suicide in order to not feel as if they are burdening their families.

In South Korea, rural areas have higher suicide rates than the urban regions. The region of Gangwon in the northern part of the country reports the highest suicide rate. In South Korea, suicide amongst men is twice as high as amongst women, although the suicide attempt rate is actually higher for women. A number of famous South Koreans have committed suicide, including the former president of the country Roh Moo-hyun and famous actress Lee Eun-ju.

What Can Be Done?

Analyzing the causes of suicide can be complex. Although it would be easy to draw a direct correlation between economic status and quality of life, this is not always the case, as is visible with the inclusion of high-income countries such as South Korea and Belgium in this table. In some countries such as Japan (which ranked 26th in this study), a cultural attitude that can be described as "suicide tolerance" has been blamed. This is said to stem from a culture where the perception of others is considered to be more important than self-worth.

Government programs have been implemented in various countries in an attempt to counter high suicide rates. These attempts usually focus on investigating the root causes of suicide in order to strategically attempt to combat it. Prevention policies can include public awareness campaigns and an increase in funding for programs that cater to mental health. Some countries also set out to reduce social isolation among its citizens. In Russia, certain web pages that contain information about methods of committing suicide are censored. In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) exists to spread public awareness about both the warning signs of suicide and suicide prevention.

Suicide Rates By Country

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RankCountrySuicides per 100,000 People
1Sri Lanka34.6
2Guyana30.6
3Mongolia28.1
4Kazakhstan27.5
5Cote d'Ivoire27.2
6Suriname26.9
7Equatorial Guinea26.6
8Lithuania26.1
9Angola25.9
10South Korea24.1
11Sierra Leone22.1
12Bolivia20.5
13Central African Republic19.6
14Belarus19.1
15Poland18.5
16Zimbabwe18.0
17Russia17.9
18Swaziland17.9
19Cameroon17.5
20Latvia17.4
21Ukraine16.6
22Burkina Faso16.5
23Belgium16.1
24India16.0
25Hungary15.7

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