Objective To examine recent changes in sex-specific and age-specific suicide mortality by method across countries.
Methods Using mortality data from the WHO mortality database, we compared sex-specific, age-specific and country-specific suicide mortality by method between 2000 and 2015. We considered seven major suicide methods: poisoning by pesticides, all other poisoning, firearms and explosives, hanging, jumping from height, drowning and other methods. Changes in suicide mortality were quantified using negative binomial models among three age groups (15–44 years, 45–64 years, and 65 years and above) for males and females separately.
Results Suicide mortality declined substantially for both sexes and all three age groups studied in 37 of the 58 included countries between 2000 and 2015. Males consistently had much higher suicide mortality rates than females in all 58 countries. Hanging was the most common suicide method in the majority of 58 countries. Sex-specific suicide mortality varied across 58 countries significantly for all three age groups. The spectrum of suicide method generally remained stable for 28 of 58 included countries; notable changes occurred in the other 30 countries, including especially Colombia, Finland and Trinidad and Tobago.
Conclusion Likely as a result of prevention efforts as well as sociodemographic changes, suicide mortality decreased substantially in 37 of the included 58 countries between 2000 and 2015. Further actions are needed to explore specific drivers of the recent changes (particularly for increases in eight countries), to understand substantial disparities in suicide rates across countries, and to develop interventions to reduce suicide rates globally.
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Contributors GQH conceived of the project. GQH and YW designed the study. YW, YH, PSN and PXC analyzed and interpreted the data. YW and GQH drafted the manuscript. DCS reviewed and revised the manuscript critically for important content. All authors approved the final version and take responsibility for the integrity of the work.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. As for the link to the data availability, all data of this paper are freely accessible in the WHO Mortality dataset (http://apps.who.int/healthinfo/statistics/mortality/causeofdeath_query/).
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