Which Countries Have The Highest Suicide Rates?


For the 11th year in a row, South Korea has
had the highest suicide rate among OECD nations. While suicide is often a personal act, and
sometimes linked to mental health disorders, there IS some commonality throughout specific
countries. Certain environmental and cultural circumstances can be contributing factors
to suicide. So, which countries have the highest suicide rates? It is important to note that suicide is often
under reported. The stigma associated with the act leads to many suicides being recorded
as accidental deaths. Per-capita, the country with the highest suicide rate in the world
is Guyana, located in South America. With 44 deaths per 100,000 people, Guyana’s rate
is almost 3 times that of the global average. Some have pointed to the extreme poverty,
rampant alcoholism, and easy access to deadly pesticides as a reason for the high rate.
There are also almost no mental health resources, with less than 10 full time psychiatrists
for a population of nearly 800,000. Guyana is infamously known as the location of the
Jonestown Massacre, during which nearly 1,000 cult members simultaneously committed suicide. Second worldwide, and first among OECD nations
is South Korea. The juxtaposition between a high standard of living and the high rate
of suicides has many questioning the root causes. The most common victims are over the
age of 65, while most suicides in other countries are among young people. Some attribute this
as a side effect of rapid industrialization. The changes in society and economy have put
significant pressure on South Koreans, with the youth trying to fit into a modern world,
and the elderly feeling out of place. This has been referred to as a “cultural ambivalence”,
and is proposed as a possible reason for such a high suicide rate. At roughly the same rate as South Korea, Sri
Lanka is third in suicides. With nearly 11 self inflicted deaths a day, some experts
point to a number of risk factors. Sri Lanka is a very poor country, so much so that the
poverty line is established as 90 cents per day. For the past 3 decades Sri Lanka has
waged a civil war against their ethnic minority, leading to increased homelessness and social
inequality. Most suicides have been by impoverished rural peasants, which some have attributed
to the government ending farming subsidies. One country often ignored in suicide statistics
is Greenland. This is due to its low population. As the least densely populated country in
the world, Greenland sees over 100 suicides per 100,000 residents, more than twice the
rate of Guyana. According to the government, one in five have attempted suicide at some
point in their lives. Some researchers suggest that suicides spike during the summer because
in Greenland the sun does not set until much later in the day. This can cause insomnia,
which contributes to mental health problems. The country also suffers from severe alcoholism,
localized poverty, and depression. An estimated 1 million people commit suicide
every year. Unfortunately, both mental illness and suicide carry heavy social stigmas, preventing
many from getting the help they need. Japan’s attitude toward suicide, however,
is WAY different. In fact, they see it as an act of HONOR. Find out more about that
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