Finnish suicide rates decline
Sharp decline in women’s suicides in recent years
While Finland has been seen as a world leader in people taking their own lives, this seems to be changing. Finland appears to have been overtaken in suicide statistics by a number of countries in the former Soviet sphere of influence, as well as Japan and China.
A medical article that appeared already in 2005 pointed out that about 60 per cent of the world’s suicides take place in Asia, where it is a major public health problem. According to the article, one fifth of all suicides in Asia do not make it into the statistics.
Suicide remains a fairly common cause of death in Finland. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Finland, dating back to 2007, suicide is the fourth most common cause of death of men of working age, and the fifth most common for working-age women. The most common causes of death both for men and women are related to the use of alcohol.
In 2007, 995 deaths in Finland were determined to be suicides. The number has declined by one third from the record year of 1990, when 1,520 people in Finland took their own lives.
The trend is downward in many other countries as well. The comparison is made more difficult by the fact that the figures for different countries in the statistics of the World Health Organisation are not all from the same years.
According to a recent article in the medical journal The Lancet, suicides are most common in Lithuania. Kazakhstan is in second place, followed closely by Hungary.
They are followed by Latvia, and three Asian countries - Japan, China, and Sri Lanka.
Next on the list is Finland. The data used in the article was from 2004. Since then, suicides by men, and especially women have decreased in Finland.
Countries with the lowest rates of suicide include Greece, Israel, and Mexico.
Different figures are offered by the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, whose article on the matter is a compilation of WHO statistics. Here as well, the figures from different countries are from different years, ranging from the early 1990s to 2005.
The comparison puts Finland in 13th place in the suicide rate. The entry puts Lithuania on top, followed by Belarus, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, and Latvia. Also ahead of Finland in suicide statistics are South Korea, Guyana, Hungary, Japan, and Estonia.
Previously in HS International Edition:
A child´s suicide note weighs heavy in mother´s handbag (16.1.2007)
Study finds use of antidepressants reduces suicides, but increases attempts (7.12.2006)
Finnish male suicides and alcohol-related deaths decline (21.10.2003)