Increase in Suicides: Important Facts and Figures

In recent times there has been an increase in suicides, which is due to psychosocial causes. We talk about this trend and its possible prevention.
Increase in Suicides: Important Facts and Figures
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 26 March, 2023

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 million people commit suicide every year. Unfortunately, the numbers have increased in recent times. Although we may not always be aware of it, a person’s decision to end his or her life is not just an individual one; social factors play a role. Therefore, it’s time to address the increase in suicides with seriousness and information.

If so many people consider death as the only way out of their suffering, it’s clear that something is wrong with our society. Work and financial stress, individualism and loneliness, lack of connection, poor mental health care… there are many areas to improve if we want to end this rising trend.

Relevant figures on the increase in suicides

Despite being a taboo subject and surrounded by stigma, suicide is a reality we live with on a daily basis. It accounts for more than half of all violent deaths worldwide and is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29.

Suicidal behavior affects people of all backgrounds, classes, and ages. And it isn’t only the youngest who are exposed.

A significant peak of incidence has been found in people over 65 years of age. Even the child population, which was previously considered low-risk, has experienced an increase in the suicide rate.

If these figures seem worrying to us, let us bear in mind that they don’t even reflect the whole situation. Many deaths that are recorded as accidents are actually voluntary deaths. Passive suicides (committed mainly by older adults) are also overlooked.

There are many suicide attempts that, even though they don’t end in death, are also alarming. Regarding the above, suicide attempts increased by 250% in the child and youth population in 2022.

All these data alert us that there’s a large percentage of the population experiencing serious emotional problems and living such stressful experiences that place them in impossible situations.

A boy with depression.
The reality of suicide became evident in the child population. Before, this group was considered low-risk, but not anymore.

Facts to consider

For those who have never been in such a situation, it may be complicated to understand that someone would make the decision to end his or her life. But the truth is that no one is safe and that emptiness and despair can creep in at any time and creep in until the person is convinced that there’s no way out.

Although the causes and risk factors may vary depending on one’s context, there are certain factors that are known to be related to suicidal behavior:

  • Having been a victim of abuse.
  • Suffering harassment or physical or psychological violence. In fact, bullying is one of the major risk factors among minors.
  • The sensationalist diffusion of suicide in the media.
  • Suffering from a certain psychological vulnerability, suffering from a mental disorder, or having previous suicide attempts.
  • A lack of strong relationships and lack of a support network.
  • A lack of good coping strategies to manage adverse and stressful situations.

In addition to the above, the global coronavirus pandemic has contributed to this increase in suicides worldwide. It brought severe consequences, with millions of jobs destroyed, economic systems affected, a constant bombardment of fear through the media, disruption of routines, and a loss of human connections due to estrangement.

Undoubtedly, this situation has significantly deteriorated the mental health of many. And in the absence of personal, health, and social resources to manage what has happened, voluntary death may have been seen as the only way out.

A woman with a mask.
Situations of isolation and rupture of social ties encourage the risk of suicide

Acting to prevent the increase in suicides

When talking about suicide, we tend to focus only on the person who ends his or her life. But it’s a structural problem that includes the whole of society.

It’s necessary to take measures to curb the increase in suicides from different areas: administration, health, social, family, and individual care. Suicide prevention programs have been designed with successful results.

In addition, there are other measures to consider:

  • Educate and raise awareness among the population about suicide, its causes, and its consequences.
  • Eliminate the taboo and stigma, talk about it properly and with awareness. In this regard, the media should emphasize the possible solutions and ways to help.
  • Create programs with specific characteristics for each target population.
  • Limit the impact of risk factors and enhance protective factors.
  • Train health professionals to detect early warning signs.
  • Provide sufficient, quality and specialized mental health care.

In short, putting an end to the increase in suicides must be a joint effort and is an urgent task in view of the figures and data. The person at risk of suicide must receive support and care, both from the environment and from professionals. Primary prevention is key to achieving this goal.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arias López, H. A. (2012). Factores de éxito en programas de prevención del suicidio. Revista Vanguardia Psicológica Clínica Teórica y Práctica3(2), 215-225.
  • Benítez Camacho, É. (2021). Suicidio: el impacto del Covid-19 en la salud mental. Medicina y ética32(1), 15-39.
  • Navarro-Gómez, N. (2017). El suicidio en jóvenes en España: cifras y posibles causas. Análisis de los últimos datos disponibles. Clínica y Salud28(1), 25-31.
  • Velásquez Suarez, J. M. (2013). Suicide in the Elderly. Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría42, 80-84.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.