New WHO Suicide Report


The World Health Organization (WHO) just published an extensive report about suicide and suicide prevention, worldwide. With many statistics and graphs, this 2014 publication is based on what we know about the year 2012. It also gives recommendations, and tries to correct some common misconceptions about suicide.

Core Data

In 2012 about 804,000 people killed themselves, meaning one suicide death every 40 seconds. This exceeded the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.

    Globally, in the 15-29 years age group suicide was the 2nd second leading cause of death; in the 30-49 years age group it was the 5th leading cause of death. Among men, the number of effective suicides was almost twice as high as among women.

    It is estimated that in 2012 for every effective suicide, there were over 20 suicide attempts. This would mean that in 2012, there may have been over 15 million suicide attempts.

Probably Even More…

It is important to take into account that the real number of suicides for 2012 may have been even higher than reported, because the numbers above are based on aggregating just official data. To quote the WHO:

    Since suicide is a sensitive issue, and even illegal in some countries, it is very likely that it is under-reported.
    In countries with good vital registration data, suicide may often be misclassified as an accident or another cause of death. Registering a suicide is a complicated procedure involving several different authorities, often including law enforcement.
    And in countries without reliable registration of deaths, suicides simply die uncounted.”


2014 WHO Suicide ReportPeople can kill themselves for many different reasons, and the WHO report also indicates some cultural differences. In Europe and North America we see relatively more “depression” suicides, while Asia has relatively a little more “impulse” suicides.

    But obviously, in general, depression remains one of the main suicide risk factors everywhere.

    I would certainly like to know how many of those 804,000 suicides were directly caused by depression – but understandably there is no place in the world where with every suicide, authorities will also systematically register the motive or background.

    Let’s just leave it at this: these 804,000 suicides stand for 804,000 individual tragedies. Just think about this for a moment. Try to imagine just one or two of them. And we can be sure that with better mental health care (both on individual and on national levels) many of these tragedies might have been prevented.


Since yesterday many news sources have superficially covered the release of this new WHO report. I found it a little strange to see none mentioning that we all can simply download the entire report.

    I would certainly recommend reading it. The full 92-page version is available in Arabic, English, French, Japanese and Russian. For Chinese and Spanish, there is a summarized version could an organization like the WHO really not afford a few more translators? Anyway, here is a link to the WHO downloads page for all editions.

    And here is a direct link that will download the full report in English: Preventing suicide: A global imperative (PDF file).

Suicide Prevention Day

In cooperation with WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) every year organizes a World Suicide Prevention Day. Next week it’s for the 11th time: September 10, 2014.

    This World Suicide Prevention Day comprises a very wide array of activities, both online events and varied real-life events. It’s meant for everyone who feels involved with the theme of suicide prevention in whatever way. This includes, for example, those of us who lost a family member through suicide.

    Link: IASP – World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September, 2014. After September 10 the site will still remain worth a visit because of its many resources.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2014

Just one gripe here: this also happens to be one of the ugliest sites I’ve seen lately. Somehow, they managed to make it look exactly like a 1998 Geocities amateur website. Was that really necessary? The world is full of mysteries.


To conclude this post, for my own fuzzy reasons I’d like you to listen to the indie group Bright Eyes (from Omaha): the song We Are Nowhere and It’s Now, from their 2005 album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

    They sing here about someone who is feeling really lost, but who in the end gets a good luck charm.

    It’s not clear to me which Bright Eyes website is the main one. So here are three links: their page at Saddle Creek; their page at UMusic; and the official site of Conor Oberst, the singer-guitarist (left in the photo) who is the driving force behind Bright Eyes.

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes – We Are Nowhere and It’s Now

1 Response to “New WHO Suicide Report”

  1. 1 Alicia Sep 30, 2014 at 15:02

    I love Conor Oberst. This song and his music helped me a lot when I was in high school.

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