Global Numbers of Suicide Deaths on the Rise

From 1990 to 2019, decrease in age-specific suicide rates offset by population growth and aging to increase numbers of suicide deaths

TUESDAY, Aug. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Globally, the overall numbers of suicide deaths increased from 1990 to 2019 despite a decrease in age-specific suicide rates, according to a study published online Aug. 16 in Injury Prevention.

Paul Siu Fai Yip, Ph.D., from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a decomposition analysis using global suicide mortality and population data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019.

The researchers found that between 1990 and 2019, there was a significant decrease in age-specific suicide rates (−4.01 per 100,000); however, during the same period, the overall numbers of suicide deaths increased by 19,897. The reduction in age-specific suicide rates (−6.09) contributed to the overall decline in suicide rates, but changes in the population age structure (2.08) offset this reduction. Population growth (300,942) and population age structure (189,512) partly accounted for the increase in suicide numbers; this was attenuated by the decrease in overall suicide rates (−470,556). There was variation seen in the combined impact of these factors across the World Bank income-level regions, with a notable increase in suicide death (72,550) in lower-middle-income regions.

“Between 1990 and 2019, despite the declining age-specific suicide rates, the resulting reduction of suicide rate was offset by the population ageing,” the authors write. “Also, the overall number of suicide deaths has been increasing due to the effects of population growth and population age structure despite the significant improvement of suicide rates, especially in lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income regions.”

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