World Health Organizations: One Suicide Occurs Every 40 Seconds

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By Sarah Thomas | September 5, 2014 2:50 PM EST

According to the UN, a suicide occurs every 40 seconds, which is more than the number of deaths per year in wars and natural disasters. The UN stated that the number of suicides was highest among the elderly. The World Health Organization in its initial report stated that the immense media coverage of celebrity suicides is one of the causes for the increase in occurence. Suicides are also seen as the second major cause of deaths among the younger generation, aged 15 to 29.

REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files
Actor Robin Williams arrives for the European premiere of "Happy Feet " at the Empire cinema in London in this file picture taken November 26, 2006. Oscar-winning actor and comedian Williams was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63.

The report studied 172 countries. Director of WHO's mental health department, Shekhar Saxena, said that suicide is a major public health problem. The death toll is huge and the statistics show that there is one suicide every 40 seconds. "There are 1.5 million ­violent deaths every year in the world, of which 800,000 are ­suicidesk," Saxena said.

Though suicides occur largely in certain regions and are lesser in others, the statistics show that it cuts across geographical, social, religious and financial classes. 25 percent occur in rich countries and 75 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries, the highest being in eastern Europe and in Asia. The study also showed that men were twice as likely as women to take their lives. WHO said that in most of the countries, the rate of suicide was highest in people aged 70 and over, while in some countries it was more common among the young.

The report also stated that suicide and attempted suicide is considered a crime in 25 countries including Africa, South America and Asia. The report listed the countries that were most prone to suicide: Guyana (44.2 per 100,000), followed by North and South Korea (38.5 and 28.9 respectively), Sri Lanka (28.8), Lithuania (28.2), Suriname (27.8), Mozambique (27.4), Nepal and Tanzania (24.9 each), Burundi (23.1), India (21.1), and South Sudan (19.8). Next were Russia and Uganda (both with 19.5), Hungary (19.1), Japan (18.5), and Belarus (18.3).

The UN announced that its goal was to reduce the suicide rates by 10 percent by 2020. No matter what the cause, mental health problem, depression, financial problems etc., there is always a way to stop it, WHO said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files / )
Actor Robin Williams arrives for the European premiere of "Happy Feet " at the Empire cinema in London in this file picture taken November 26, 2006. Oscar-winning actor and comedian Williams was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff's Office said. He was 63.
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