Suicide epidemiology and demographics

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Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Iqra Qamar M.D.[2]


Suicide is the third leading cause of death among all children and adolescents in the United States. In the United States, the incidence rate of suicide among children aged 5 to 11 years was 1 per 1 million, between 2008 and 2012. Among adolescents, the suicide rate is highest for white males.

Epidemiology and Demographics


  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among all children and adolescents in the United States.[1][2][3][4][5][6]
  • During the time period of 1960s and the 1990s, suicide rates doubled in the 15- to 19-year age group and tripled in the 10- to 14-year age group, in the United States.[7][8]
  • Survey data from the United States in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 found that about 7 to 9% of all adolescents attempted suicide in the 12 months before the survey.[9][10][11][12][13][14]


  • In the United States, the incidence rate of suicide among children aged 5 to 11 years was 1 per 1 million, between 2008 and 2012.[15][16][17][18][19]


  • The rate of suicidal ideation is greater in high school girls than boys (21 to 31% versus 13 to 20%)[11]
  • Suicide attempts are also more common in adolescent girls than boys[12]
  • Adolescent boys are more likely to complete suicide than girls[20][21]


  • The suicide rates are variable among different ethnic groups[22]
  • Among adolescents, the suicide rate is highest for white males[14]
  • During 1980 and 1996, the suicide rate increased most rapidly among black males ages 15 to 19 years (from 3.6 to 8.1 per 100,000)

National suicide rates sometimes tend to remain stable. For example, the 1975 rates for Australia, Denmark, England, France, Norway, and Switzerland were within 3.0 per 100,000 of population from the 1875 rates.[23] The rates in 1910–14 and in 1960 differed less than 2.5 per 100,000 of the population in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands.[24]

Suicides per 100,000 people per year[25]
Rank Country Males Females Total Year
1 Lithuania 70.1 14.0 40.2 2004
2 Belarus 63.3 10.3 35.1 2003
3 Russia 61.6 10.7 34.3 2004
4 Kazakhstan 51.0 8.9 29.2 2003
5 Hungary 44.9 12.0 27.7 2003
6 Guyana 42.5 12.1 27.2 2003
7 South Korea[26][27] N/A N/A 26.1 2005
8 Slovenia 37.9 13.9 25.6 2004
9 Latvia 42.9 8.5 24.3 2004
10 Japan 35.6 12.8 24.0 2004

There are considerable differences in national suicide rates among various countries. Findings from two studies showed a range from 0 to more than 40 suicides per 100,000 of population.[28]

National suicide rates, apparently universally, show a long-term upward trend. This trend has been well-documented in European countries.[29] The trend for national suicide rates to rise slowly over time might be an indirect result of the gradual reduction in deaths from other causes, i.e. falling death rates from causes other than suicide uncover a previously hidden predisposition towards suicide.[30][31] There may also be an explanation in the reduced stigma attached to survivors as suicide is no longer considered a crime or a sin. This may allow coroners to record more suicides as such and so increase stats.

Ethnic groups and suicide: In the USA, Asian-Americans are more likely to die by suicide than any other ethnic group. Caucasians die by suicide more often than African Americans do. This is true for both genders. Non-Hispanic Caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than are African Americans or Hispanics.[32]


Season and suicide: People die by suicide more often during spring and summer. The idea that suicide is more common during the winter holidays (including Christmas in the northern hemisphere) is a common misconception.[33] There is also potential risk of suicide in some people experiencing Seasonal affective disorder.


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  24. Lester, Patterns, 1996, p. 22
  25. Country reports and charts available, World Health Organization, accessed on March 16 2008.
  26. Suicide in South Korea Case of Too Little, Too Late, OhmyNews KOREA
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  29. Lester, Patterns, 1996, p. 2.
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  31. Khan, A., Warner, H. A., & Brown, W. A. (2000) Symptom reduction and suicide risk in patients treated with placebo in antidepressant clinical trials. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 311-317.
  32. Template:PDFlink
  33. "Questions About Suicide". Centre For Suicide Prevention. 2006.

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