Suicide rate

Suicide is a serious problem in many countries around the world. This map gives a closer look at the areas where suicide rates are the highest.


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Map of the global suicide rate.

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On this map we can see that the suicide rate is the highest in the northern tip of South America, Southern Africa, (Eastern) Europe, East Asia and the Western Pacific.

Greenland has by far the highest suicide rate in the world. Almost double of the second country, Lesotho. A clear cause for this high rate hasn’t been found yet. Alcoholism, depression, poverty, conflict-ridden relationship with spouse and dysfunctional parental homes are all possible causes. Culture clash between the traditional Inuit culture and modern Western culture is also assumed to be a cause.

According to the statistics, suicides in Greenland increase during the summer. Making insomnia a plausible cause as well, as the sun doesn’t set in most of Greenland during the summer.

In Guyana, poverty and lack of basic services is believed to be a reason for the high suicide rate. Guyana’s poor governance has been a major obstacle to the reduction of poverty in the country. This has fed a sense of mistrust and frustration among the Guyanese.

The high rate of HIV/AIDS in Guyana, is believed to be a possible reason for the high suicide rate as well.

In Europe, Ukraine and Lithuania have the highest suicide rate. In Ukraine, a lot of suicides are committed in the army. Difficulties with the army lifestyle and the stress of life are believed to be the primary reasons. In Lithuania, social and financial problems are thought to be important reasons for the high suicide rate.

Although Japan has a reputation for having a high suicide rate, it is not the highest in Asia. South Korea has the highest number of suicides in Asia and ranks 6th globally. The suicide rate in South Korea is high among the elderly. Half of South Korea’s senior citizens live below the poverty line. Combined with a poorly-funded social safety net for the elderly, this is believed to be one of the major reasons for the high suicide rate amongst the elderly. Many of them don’t want to be a financial burden on their families, since the old social structure where children looked after their parents has largely disappeared in the 21st century.

Another possible reason, is the competitive work and study environment in South Korea. The enormous stress and pressure South Korean students have to endure, has even been labelled as child abuse by some organizations. Studies have shown that 46% of high school students in Seoul are depressed, due to academic stress. On top of that, mental illness is a taboo in South Korea. Because mental illness is looked down upon, many people refrain from seeking treatment.

Surprisingly, committing suicide is considered a crime in 25 countries. Although a person that has committed suicide is beyond the reach of the law, there can still be legal consequences in relation to treatment of the corpse or the fate of the person’s property or family members. Failed suicide attempts, can lead to imprisonment in some of these countries of up to 2 years.

In many of these countries, suicide numbers are most likely under-reported. Suicide is still a sensitive issue for many governments. Mortality data in general is of poor quality in many countries, but suicide deaths in particular are still very sensitive for many governments. This seems to be particularly the case with Islamic countries and countries led by an authoritarian regime.

If you are currently having thoughts of suicide, even on an occasional basis, ask for help. You can do this by calling a doctor or just talking to friends and family members who may be able to help you.

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