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T&T suicide rates higher than regional, global averages—WHO

Suicide rates in two of the region's countries are among the highest in the world
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Trouble in paradise?
WHO’s World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” seeks to make suicide a top priority on the global public health agenda.

Every forty seconds someone dies from suicide. That's more than 800,000 people worldwide every year.

And according to the World Health Organisation's first global report on suicide prevention, two countries in the Americas have suicide rates that are among the highest in the world.

Some 75% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries, where pesticide poisoning is one of the most common methods. Guyana has the highest estimated suicide rate for 2012 in the world, and Suriname has the sixth-highest.

Although the report classed T&T as a high-income country, the country's average estimated suicide rate is higher than the Americas region average of 7.3 per 100,000 and higher than the global average of 11.4 per 100,000. T&T's 2012 rate is 13.0 per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 3.8 per cent from the 2000 figure of 12.6 per 100,000. 

193 suicides were reported in T&T in 2012, of which 146 were males. In general, more men die by suicide than women. In countries of the Americas, rates range 2 to 6 times higher for men than for women.

Data from the Americas show that suicide rates first peak among young people, remain at the same level for other age groups, and rise again among older men. In T&T, the highest incidence among males was in the 50-69 age group, while the 30-49 age group was most susceptible for females.

Suicide occurs all over the world and can take place at almost any age. Although global rates of suicide are highest in people aged 70 years and over, it is the second-leading cause of death in 15- to 29-year-olds around the world.


“Unfortunately, suicide all too often fails to be prioritised as a major public health problem,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “Despite an increase in research and knowledge about suicide and its prevention, the taboo and stigma surrounding suicide persist, and often people do not seek help or are left alone. And if they do seek help, many health systems and services fail to provide timely and effective help.”

Evidence shows that limiting access to the means of suicide can help prevent such deaths, as can a commitment by national governments to the establishment and implementation of coordinated plans of action.

“The most important message is that suicide can be prevented, especially if we identify people at risk and intervene early,” said Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, chief of the Mental Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). People who have attempted suicide are at higher risk of attempting it again, he noted, making it important for health personnel to provide follow-up of such cases, with family and community support.

WHO’s World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” seeks to make suicide a top priority on the global public health agenda. The report was launched on September 4, a week before World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on 10 September each year to provide an opportunity for joint action to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention around the world.


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