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Three-quarters of suicides take place in low-income regions

Three-quarters of all suicides take place in lower-income regions, according to a new WHO report.

PastedImage-99376 Source: WHO

A NEW REPORT by the World Health Organisation has revealed massive differences in suicide rates between countries.

These can range from 0.4 deaths per every 100,000 people, to 44.2 in Guyana.

The difference is especially stark between high-income and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), as seen in the above graph.

Three-quarters of suicides take place in lower-income regions.

WHO’s ‘Preventing Suicide: A global imperative’ report, published yesterday, has analysed the regional distribution of global suicides, and found that 39% of suicides occur South-East Asia.

This consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

In this region, just 11 LMICs make up 39% of global suicides. This is compared to 45 LMICs in Africa making up 8%, and 55 high-income countries making up 25%.

However, suicide makes up a slightly lower proportion of all deaths in these LMICs, primarily due to the high numbers of deaths from infectious diseases and other causes.

There are also clusters of areas with the highest suicide rates, classed as greater than 15 per every 100,000 people. These are centered around:

  • Russia and surrounding countries, expanding into Eastern Europe and west to Japan and the Korean peninsula
  • A band of countries stretching down the east coast of Africa
  • India along with Nepal and Bhutan
  • Guyana and Suriname

PastedImage-75142 Source: WHO

WHO has noted that in several member states there is a lack of high-quality data.

The same goes for other mortality data, but, due to a number factors, this could be exacerbated for cases of suicide.

“Suicide registration is a complicated, multilevel procedure that includes medical and legal concerns,” the report read, “and involves several responsible authorities that can vary from country to country.”

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In some countries, cases may be under-reported due to the sensitivity of the issue.

There’s also the fact that suicide is illegal in some areas, meaning it may not be properly recorded when it does take place.

“Of 192 independent countries and states investigated (152), 25 currently have specific laws and punishments for attempted suicide,” the report read, while an additional ten follow Sharia law, in which people who have attempted suicide may be punished.

It notes that in some countries where suicide is illegal, people who have attempted suicide will be arrested and cautioned, but not prosecuted unless another attempt is made. In others, a judge will excuse them after being arrested.


  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: One person takes their own life every 40 seconds – WHO report >

More: Governments called on to form national plans for suicide prevention >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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