Background Suicide represents serious public health issue of today. Suicide deaths are largely preventable and subject to public health interventions. Our study based on population mortality data tried to identify the most vulnerable populations with the aim to create specific prevention programs at regional level.
Methods The cross-sectional study was used in this research. Mortality data were collected by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics for Split and Dalmatia County (SDC) population over period 2004–2013. The external causes of death were based on the International Classification of Diseases, the 10th revision (ICD-10) and the underlying cause of death was determined as Intentional self-harm (X60-X84, ICD-10). In the study a total number of suicide deaths was used as well as overall and specific mortality rates cross-classified by year, age and gender.
Results In period 2004–2013 there were 488 suicides in SDC (an average annual rate of 10.5 per 100,000), representing 1.3% of total male deaths and 0.6% of total female deaths. Suicide was the second or the third leading cause of injury death for all ages-accounting for one-fifth of all injury deaths in the observed period. As study results showed, males were two times likely to commit suicide than females. The suicide rate for males was 2.1 times higher than rate for females (14.2 versus 6.5 per 100,000). Although suicide deaths affect almost all age groups, those aged 35–54 had the highest rates. The suicide rates have declined in recent years, but the growing trend of suicide deaths in young males is concerning fact.
Conclusions Our study results can be used as a base for developing specific suicide prevention programs at regional level. Preventive strategies implemented at regional level identifying vulnerable population groups could be more effective than global strategies.