Global Suicides Have Declined by a Third Since 1990, a Study Finds

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Suicides around the world have decreased by about a third in recent decades, a new study found, highlighting an overall downward trend.

Researchers found that an estimated 817,000 people killed themselves in 2016, a 6.7% increase from 1990. But adjusted for a booming global population, that marks a 32.7% decrease, according to the study published in the BMJ journal.

“Suicide is considered a preventable cause of death and this study shows that we should continue in our efforts towards suicide prevention,” said Heather Orpana, research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada and a collaborator on the study, according to Agence France-Presse.

The report also found that men are more likely to kill themselves than women in all regions and age groups, except for 15- to 19-year-olds. Men account for 15.6 deaths per 100,000 compared with 7.0 among women.

The decline in the global suicide rate corresponded with an overall downturn in the global mortality rate among all causes of deaths, suggesting that suicide could be effectively reduced if dealt with like any other illnesses.

“Sometimes we might look at suicide as a different kind of health outcome than, say, cardiovascular disease or cancer, which are considered more traditional,” Orpana told AFP. “But what the similar rate (fall) may be telling us is that suicide may be similar to other health outcomes and in some ways may be driven by similar factors.”

The Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation, a think tank partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, conducts the Global Burden of Disease analysis every year. While data collection of self-harm varies by nation, the organization calculates worldwide morality based on hundreds of data sources.

The World Health Organization lists suicide as a critical public health issue and reports that at least 800,000 people commit suicide every year. The WHO aims to cut global suicide rates by 10% by 2020, the report says.

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