Costa Rica appears to be slightly below average in rate of suicides

Despite its claim to be the happiest country, Costa Rica is around average in the rate of suicides, according to a comprehensive report issued this week by the World Health Organization.

In 2012 there were 331 listed suicides in Costa Rica with most of the deaths, some 278, being men.  The rate per thousand was 6.9 and there was a 3.7 percent reduction from 2000 to 2012, according to the country’s records published in the U.N. agency’s first global report on suicide prevention. Male suicides were down 7.9 percent while those by females were up 24.6 percent.

Nicaragua had 9.1 suicides per 100,000 in the same year with a total of 547. Panamá was lower at 4.5 suicides per 100,000 of population with 160 suicides. Honduras had a suicide rate of 4.9 per 100,000 of population with 386 suicides.

El Salvador appeared to have the highest rate in Central America with 12.8 suicides per 100,000 of population. There were 906 suicides there in 2012, the report said.  Guatemala has a 7.3 per 100,000 rate of suicides with 1,101 deaths

Elsewhere, Cuba had a 14.6 rate of suicides per 100,000 with 1,648.

In the Americas, the average estimated suicide rate is 7.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is lower than in other World Health  regions and lower than the global average of 11.4 per 100,000, said the report. However, Guyana has the highest estimated suicide rate for 2012 in the world, and Suriname has the sixth-highest. Data from the Americas show that suicide rates first peak among young people, remain at the same level for other age groups, and rise again among older men.

In general, more men die by suicide than women. In countries of the Americas, rates range two to six times higher for men than for women.

More than 800,000 people around the world die from suicide every year, according to the report. Some 75 percent of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

“Unfortunately, suicide all too often fails to be prioritized as a major public health problem,” said World Health Director-General Margaret Chan. “Despite an increase in research and knowledge about suicide and its prevention, the taboo and stigma surrounding suicide persist, and often people do not seek help or are left alone. And if they do seek help, many health systems and services fail to provide timely and effective help.”

Suicide occurs all over the world and can take place at almost any age, the report said. Globally, rates of suicide are highest in people aged 70 years and over. In some individual countries, however, the highest rates are found among the young. Notably, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in 15- to 29-year-olds globally.

Pesticide poisoning is one of the most common methods of suicide, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and accounts for one-third of cases globally, the report said. The relatively high proportion of suicides by firearms in high-income countries is primarily driven by high-income countries in the Americas, where firearms account for 46 percent of all suicides, the report said. In high-income countries outside the Americas, firearms account for only 4.5 percent of suicides. Evidence shows that limiting access to the means of suicide can help prevent such deaths, as can a commitment by national governments to the establishment and implementation of coordinated plans of action, said the agency.

The world suicide report seeks to make suicide a priority on the global public health agenda, said the agency. The report’s launch comes just a week before World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on Sept. 10 each year to provide an opportunity for joint action to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention around the world, said the agency.

The report in English is HERE!

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