Franklin James Cook

Finland: 2007 Suicides 1/3 Fewer than in 1990

In Prevention, Research on April 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

 A woman in Helsinki, Finland attends a 1995 in memory of suicide victims. (Helsingin Sanomat   photo by Jarmo Matilaine)

A woman in Helsinki, Finland attends a 1995 ceremony in memory of suicide victims. (Helsingin Sanomat photo by Jarmo Matilaine)

ORIGINAL REPORT — The Scandinavian newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, in a report yesterday on a recent decrease in suicide in Finland, gives a glimpse of international suicide statistics.

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.

Concerning countries with high suicide rates, the report references a 2005 paper that states “about 60 per cent of the world’s suicides take place in Asia, where it is a major public health problem … [and] one-fifth of all suicides in Asia do not make it into the statistics.”

According to a [2004] 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 … Since then, suicides by men, and especially women have decreased in Finland.

Countries with the lowest rates of suicide include Greece, Israel, and Mexico.

A decrease of one-third in the United States (where more than 30,000 people die by suicide annually) would r esult in 10,000 fewer lives lost , so it would be interesting to learn if Finland’s reduction is a trend or an anomaly and, if it is a trend, whether prevention practices there are duplicable in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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