Between 1990 and 2016, suicide rates declined by more than one-third worldwide, according to a new study published in the BMJ journal. The total number of deaths from suicide went up slightly, but because the global population continues to soar, the effect of only a slight statistical increase in deaths by suicide means that the total rate is way down.
A decline in suicide rates tends to be associated with improved access to healthcare and a reduction in poverty, as poor health and economic suffering are highly associated with suicide rates. The study authors found that rates had gone down more than 50% in nations including China, Denmark, and the Philippines.
Domestically, the rates still look a little worse overall. Suicide rates are rising in the United States, and among teens, suicide became the second leading cause of death in 2016. No one knows exactly why, though in general, according to prevention experts, several key risk factors associated with suicide attempts include access to firearms and loneliness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide, close to 800,000 people die by suicide each year, a preventable cause of death that the agency lists as a serious public health issue. And around the world, certain spots are magnets for people seeking to end their lives, such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, though the iconic bridge is finally adding a suicide prevention barrier to discourage jumpers.