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Suicide prevention day Survey: around 33,000 suicide attempts a year in Switzerland

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In Switzerland, 1,016 people committed suicide in 2016 (not including around 900 assisted suicides), or 10.2 per 100,000 people - around the European average.

(Keystone)

A new survey released on World Suicide Prevention Day has revealed a more detailed picture of people who attempt to commit suicide in Switzerland. 

Around the world, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year. In Switzerland, 1,016 people committed suicide in 2016 (not including around 900 assisted suicides), or 10.2 per 100,000 people - around the European average.

But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. A 2017 survey released on Tuesdayexternal link by the state-run Swiss Health Observatoryexternal link found that around 8% of the Swiss population (8.5 million) – extrapolated to around 500,000 people - said they had experienced suicidal thoughts at least once during the two weeks ahead of the poll. This represented a 1.4% increase compared to the previous survey in 2012. 

Men and women were equally affected by suicidal thoughts, and there were no clear trends by region, the survey found. There were higher percentages in the 85+, 15-24 and 55-64 age groups. Urban life, immigration status and lack of education and professional outlook also had an influence on the higher rates, as well as long-term illnesses. 

The survey estimated that 200,000 people had also tried to commit suicide once during their lifetime and 33,000 had tried during the 12 months prior to the 2017 survey. 

These figures do not reflect the full situation, however, as they do not include people in prison, those staying in psychiatric clinics or asylum-seekers. 

+ Read more about how Switzerland wants to prevent 300 suicides a year

Switzerland has introduced numerous measures and resources for suicide prevention. In 2016, the Swiss government launched a suicide prevention action plan with ten measures, including raising public awareness, providing fast and easily accessible help, and spreading knowledge about best practices in Switzerland and abroad. 

The goal is to reduce the number of non-assisted suicides in Switzerland by 25% by 2030 – in other words, to prevent about 300 suicides per year. 

Global rates around the world have fallen in recent years - with a 9.8% decrease between 2010 and 2016 - but declines were patchy. In Switzerland the number of suicides has fallen by a third over the past 20 years.

graph 1

Suicide rate in Switzerland

One every 40 seconds 

A report released by the World Health Organization (WHO)external link on Monday showed that across the world, one person takes their own life every 40 seconds, and more people die by suicide every year than in war.

Hanging, poisoning and shooting are the most common suicide methods, the WHO said as it urged governments to adopt suicide prevention plans.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 and 29, after road injury, and among teenage girls aged 15 to 19 it was the second biggest killer after maternal conditions. In teenage boys, suicide ranked third behind road injury and interpersonal violence.

The report also found that nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in wealthy countries, in contrast to low-and middle-income countries, where the rates are more equal. 

The WHO said restricting access to pesticides was one of the most effective ways of reducing suicide numbers swiftly.

Pro Juventute What to do when your friend talks about suicide

In Switzerland a young person commits suicide about every three days. An innovative prevention campaign wants to encourage young people to seek help.

OBSAN/swissinfo.ch/sb

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