Latvia still fairly high in EU suicide statistics

Despite significant improvements over the last decade, Latvia retains one of Europe's highest rates of death from suicide according to Eurostat data published September 8.

In 2020, Latvia's suicide rate was 15.59 per 100,000 inhabitants – slightly up on 2019's figure of 15.04 but significantly down on 2011's figure of 21.23.

In fact, Latvia now has the lowest suicide rate in the Baltic states. Estonia's rate in 2020 was 16.28 – virtually unchanged commpared to 2011's rate of 16.31.

Lithuania recorded an even higher suicide rate of 21.25 in 2020 (Lithuania is divided into two regions in the data, with Vilnius and its surrounding area having a lower rate of 16.87 compared to other districts), but even that was well down on 2011's astonishing equivalent rate of 33.38.

The South Great Plain region in Hungary recorded the highest standardised death rate for suicide at 23.9 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants. This region was followed by the Central and Western regions of Lithuania (22.9), Lower Normandy in France (22.3), Świętokrzyskie in central Poland (21.2) and Hungary’s North Great Plain (20.6). 

On the other hand, the regions with the smallest number of deaths resulting from suicide were Mayotte in France (1.4), North Aegean (2.3) and Central Macedonia (2.9) in Greece, Campania in Italy (2.9), and South-West region in Bulgaria (3.0), all with a standardised death rate for self-harm of 3 or less deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.

World Suicide Prevention Day is on 10 September.

Regional patterns for standardised death rates for suicide

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Source datasets: hlth_cd_asdr2 (rate) and hlth_cd_aro (absolute number)

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data for 2016, there were 10.5 suicides per 100 000 of population worldwide, with one suicide occuring every 40 seconds on average. 

While 79% of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries had the highest rate, at 11.5 per 100 000. Nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in high-income countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rate is more equal.

"The most common methods of suicide are hanging, pesticide self-poisoning, and firearms. Key interventions that have shown success in reducing suicides are restricting access to means; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; implementing programmes among young people to build life skills that enable them to cope with life stresses; and early identification, management and follow-up of people at risk of suicide," said the WHO. 

In 2019, more than 700 000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.

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