Suicide in Canada
Today in Canada approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide. In addition, approximately 210 others will attempt to end their lives by suicide today. For each death by suicide. It has been estimated that the lives of 7-10 bereaved ‘Survivors” are profoundly affected. This means that today in Canada 77-110 people will become newly bereaved by suicide. To be certain, suicide is a critical public health issue in Canada. In Canada suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years. In 2012, suicide is ranked as the 9th leading cause of death in Canada. According to Statistics Canada there were 3,926 suicides in the year 2012. Males were three times more likely to die by suicide than females. This much higher rate of suicide for men compared to women has been a trend consistent over time in Canada. Although men are more likely to die by suicide, females are 3-4 times more likely to attempt to end their lives. In addition, women are hospitalized 1.5 times more often than males for suicide related behaviors. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that females tend to use less immediately lethal methods. Based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, 14.7% of Canadians have thought about suicide and 3.5% have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
- Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. Worldwide, suicide ranks among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15 – 44 years. Suicide accounts for more loss of life in the world than the total number of deaths from war, acts of terrorism and homicide combined
- In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.
- Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998, and 2.4% in countries with market and former socialist economies in 2020.
- Although traditionally suicide rates have been highest among the male elderly, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.
- Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America; however, in Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.
15 September 2009 — A recent WHO study shows that young people are often at risk, and that suicide is the second largest cause of mortality in the 10-24 age group. However, there are different risk factors in different cultures. Source: World Health Organization – Suicide Prevention www.who.int/en/ Rate of suicide In 2001, the crude rate of suicide (not standardized for age) in Canada was 11.9 per 100,000 population.3,4 The suicide rate for males was 18.6 per 100,000 population and 5.2 per 100,000 population for females Contrary to common belief, suicide rates are not highest among adolescents. During the period 1997-2001, the highest rates occurred among
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The majority of suicides can be prevented. There are a number of measures that can be taken at community and national levels to reduce the risk, including:
- reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, medication, guns);
- treating people with mental disorders (particularly those with depression, alcoholism, and schizophrenia);
- providing follow-up to people who have made suicide attempts;
- responsible media reporting;
- training primary health care workers;
- mental health promotion.
At a more personal level, it is important to know that only a small number of suicides happen without warning. Most people who die by suicide give definite warnings of their intentions. Therefore, all threats of self-harm should be taken seriously. In addition, a majority of people who attempt suicide are ambivalent and not entirely intent on dying. Many suicides occur in a period of improvement when the person has the energy and the will to turn despairing thoughts into destructive action. However, a once-suicidal person is not necessarily always at risk: suicidal thoughts may return but they are not permanent and in some people they may never return. Source: World Health Organziation (WHO) How can suicide be prevented?
- Take all threats or attempts seriously
- Be aware and learn warning signs of suicide
- Be direct and ask if the person is thinking of suicide. If the answer is yes, ask if the person has a plan and what the time line is.
- Be non-judgmental and empathic
- Do not minimize the feelings expressed by the person
- Do not be sworn to secrecy …seek out the support of appropriate professionals
- Ask if there is anything you can do
- Draw on resources in the person’s network
- Do not use clichés or try to debate with the person
- In an acute crisis take the person to an emergency room or walk in clinic or call a mobile crisis service if one is available
- Do not leave them alone until help is provided
- Remove any obvious means e.g. firearms, drugs or sharp objects) from the immediate vicinity
Source: International Association of Suicide Prevention http://www.iasp.info/resources/Helping_Someone
American Association of Suicidology www.suicidology.org Canadian Mental Health Association www.cmha.ca Health Canada www.hc-sc.gr.ca Suicide Education and Information Centre www.suicideinfo.ca Statistics Canada www.statcan.gc.ca World Health Organization www.who.int International Association of Suicide Prevention www.iasp.into Statistics Canada. (2002). Leading causes of death at different ages, Canada, 1999. Shelf tables. Ottawa, ON: Author. Langlois, S., & Morrison, P. (2002). Suicide deaths and suicide attempts. Health Reports, 13 (2), 9-22. Statistics Canada. Causes of death, shelf tables. [1997-2001]. Ottawa, ON: Author. 3,4Sstatistics Canada. (2003). Annual demographic statistics 2002. Ottawa, ON: Author. 3,4