How Many People Engage In Suicidal Behaviour

In England and Wales in a typical year, about 1% of deaths are from suicide (Office for National Statistics, 1999). This translates into a rate of about 10 per 100000 of the population, the rate also found in the UK confidential inquiry into suicide and homicide, which looked at suicides occurring over a 5-year period (Department of Health, 2001). Rates do vary in different countries (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2001). For example, the rates in northern European countries and most, but not all, former Soviet republics are high (for example, Ukraine 30/100 000), and the rates in Mediterranean countries tend to be low (for example, Greece 4/100 000). Suicide is predominantly a male behaviour: the aggregate male/female ratio across countries is 3.5:1 (WHO, 2001); in the UK, it is 3:1 (Department of Health, 2001).

Parasuicide is much more common than suicide, although the data tend to be less reliable due to the varying ways they are collected as well as the different definitions of parasuicide being used in different places. A WHO multicentre study using standardised recording of parasuicides presenting to hospital in centres in 16 European countries found a mean, age-standardised rate per annum of 186/100000 (Kerkhof, 2000). The rates varied across countries from 69/100000 in the Spanish centre to 462/100000 in the French centre. The UK rates, where Oxford was the centre, were the second highest, with 384/100 000. Unlike suicide, parasuicide is more common in females—the female to male ratio in the WHO European study was 1.5:1. Kerkhof (2000) estimated that, in that WHO study, the lifetime prevalence of medically treated suicide attempts was about 2% for males and 3% for females. Estimates have also been made from population surveys rather than hospital presentations. This has the benefit of potentially detecting non-presenting cases, but the reliability of the data is unknown. The finding of prevalence will depend on the exact question asked. Most surveys estimate that 1-4% of the population have engaged in parasuicide, though some figures are higher (Kerkhof, 2000). From a recent large population survey in the USA, 4.6% reported having made a suicide attempt (Kessler et al., 1999). About half said it was a serious attempt with at least some intent to die, even if ambivalent, and half said it was a cry for help where they did not want to die. Suicidal thoughts or ideation is probably more common again, but is very difficult to estimate. Kessler et al. (1999) found that 13.5% reported having suicide ideation at some point in their lives. Again, the exact question asked will have a bearing on the rate found.

Repetition of parasuicide is common and represents a serious clinical problem. In the WHO European study, 54% of attempters had a previous attempt, and 30% made another attempt during the 1-year follow-up (Kerkhof, 2000). Approximately 1% of attempters go on to complete suicide within 1 year, and studies with a follow-up period of at least 5 years show rates of 3-13% (Sakinofsky, 2000). Between one-third and two-thirds of those who die by suicide will have made a previous attempt (Sakinofsky, 2000).

BiPolar Explained

BiPolar Explained

Bipolar is a condition that wreaks havoc on those that it affects. If you suffer from Bipolar, chances are that your family suffers right with you. No matter if you are that family member trying to learn to cope or you are the person that has been diagnosed, there is hope out there.

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