Guyana is no longer the suicide capital of the world, having fallen to fourth place, according to crude statistics on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
Although the latest tabulations indicate a steadily rising rate of suicide in Guyana from 2000 until 2012, there is a notable decrease between 2012 and 2015, which would signal that the various systems put in place, including a suicide hotline, have started to make the desired impact.
According to the crude data on the WHO’s website, which was last updated on April 4, this year, as at 2015 Sri Lanka had the highest suicide rate in the world at an estimated 35.3 per every 100,000 inhabitants; Lithuania was second with 32.7 per 100,000; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) third with 32.0; and Guyana fourth with 29.0.
However, when consideration is given to the fact that Sri Lanka has a population of over 20 million; Lithuania, 2.9 million; the DPRK, over 50 million and Guyana just over 700,000, it means that per capita, this country’s statistics remain as horrifying as they were when the WHO released its “Preventing Suicide: A global imperative” report in 2014.
The global suicide rate in 2015 was 10.7 per 100,000 population, while for the Americas, the rate was given as 9.6. Europe has the highest rate at 14.1 per 100,000 population, according to WHO.
According to the website, Guyana’s suicide figure has been climbing since 2000. At that time, the rate was 22.3 per 100,000 population, but by 2005 it was 24.0 and moved up to 25.8 in 2010. For 2012, according to the WHO, the rate was recorded at 34.8.
According to the most recent statistics, divided by gender, men were three times more likely to kill themselves than women.
In 2000, the number of men who committed suicide was 33.6 per 100,000, while the women were 11.0; in 2005 this rose to 35.9 and 12.2, respectively; in 2010, 38.4 and 13.2 respectively, while in 2015 the figure stood at 42.4 and 15.5 respectively.
According to WHO, each year close to 800,000 people die owing to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. However, 78% of global suicide occurred in low and middle-income countries in 2015, while suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015.
There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide, WHO said.
Further, it noted that in Guyana, between 2010 and 2012, there were 667 reported suicide attempts, resulting in an average of 200 deaths per year.
The government has launched the National Mental Health Action Plan for 2015–2020 and a national suicide prevention plan, which is currently being implemented in tandem with the WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme, which is being rolled out in low and middle-income countries and aims to scale up services for people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders.