The information here is provided by courtesy of the Network's short online course - "An Introduction to Global Health". 




Injuries Worldwide 


Taking the world as a whole, the share of deaths from injuries has hardly changed over the last 30 years having been 9% in 1990 and 8% in 2017.


The main injuries causing of death are from road traffic accidents. 

Suicides are the second most important cause  of death from injury. (Table 1)


Table 1 


Deaths from Injuries, 2017

Source : Our world in Data


Road                              1,240,000

Suicide                              793,823

Homicide                          403,346

Drownings                        295,210





  • There are around 800,000 suicides in the world each year. 
  • 79% of suicides occur in Low- and Middle-income countries.


There is wide variation in rates across the world (Map 1)


Map 1 




  • It is the third leading cause of death in 15 – 19 year olds, though  the death rates are higher in older age group - around 27/100,000 in people over 70 years compared to around 12/100,000 in the 15 - 49 year age group.
  • The rate for men is around twice that for women.


Methods of suicide


It is estimated that around 20% of world suicide deaths are from pesticides, most of which occur in rural agricultural areas of low- and middle-income countries.


Other common methods are hanging and firearms. Knowledge of the most common method is important when considering preventive measures. 


Risk factors 


For every suicide there are more than 20 attempts. A previous attempt at suicide is the single most important risk factor in the population. 


  • Suicide rates are high in vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants, indigenous people and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex person and in prisoners. 
  • Many suicides happen impulsively with life stresses such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness. 
  • There is also a link between suicide and mental disorders.


Prevention and Control 


Preventive interventions will reduce suicide rates. 


There are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include:


  • reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications)
  • reporting by media in a responsible way
  • school-based interventions
  • introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol
  • early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress
  • training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour
  • follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.
  • Suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society,

Few countries have suicide  prevention in their health priorities and only 38 countries have a national suicide prevention strategy.

WHO produced a World Suicide Report in 2014 and a Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020. Suicide mortality rate is an indicator of target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals

Further reading 


WHO : Suicide data


WHO: Preventing suicide: A global imperative


WHO : WHP Mental Health Gap Action Programme


WHO : Mental health action plan 2013 – 2020


WHO : Preventing Suicide: a resource series


WHO : Suicide prevention – Tools




Suicide image