Suicides down, attempts up

More males commit suicide, while more females attempt to end their lives

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The suicide rate is rapidly increasing around the world but in Sri Lanka it has come down from 47 per 100,000 population in 1995 to 18.07 in 2011, according to Sri Lanka Sumithrayo figures.

Although the decrease gave reason to be pleased, the rate was still high, and yet more disturbing was the number of suicide attempts steadily on the rise, Sri Lanka Sumithrayo, Rural Programme Director, Lakshmi Ratnayeke said yesterday.

She told The Island that the poverty and economic hardships were the main causes of the increasing number of suicide attempts in Sri Lanka.

Ratnayeke said that 75 percent of suicides in Sri Lanka happened in rural areas where agro-chemicals were readily available.

Most suicides were reported from rural area communities, especially from the Southern and Northwestern Provinces, she added.

According to a research conducted by Sri Lanka Sumithrayo suicides in the North-Western province are significantly higher than in the south.

Pesticide related suicides had decreased in the South but escalated in the North-West, Ratnayeke said, adding that there was a steady increase in suicide by hanging in both areas within the last four years.

"Western Province has the lowest suicide rate," she added.

Sri Lanka in 1995 and 1996 recorded the highest number of suicides in the world. Statistics showed that 47 per 100,000 population committed suicide, which was more than double the highest number around the world.

There were many suicide attempts by teenagers but deaths were reported from the age group of 30 to 50 years, she said, adding that more males committed suicide, while more females attempted to end their lives.

According to WHO, global statistics one person commits suicide every 40 seconds (16 per 100,000 population). The projected global suicide rate for year 2020 is one in every 20 seconds. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years.

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