More middle-aged suicides

05/07/2005 14:00

In  2004 1,514 people in the Netherlands killed themselves. With an average four suicides a day, this accounts for just oever 1 percent of the total number of deaths in the Netherlands (approximately 370 per day). Men are nearly twice as likely to kill themselves as women. The number of suicides has been around the same level for years, but is now concentrating in the middle aged groups. Women who kill themselves are older (51.5 years) on average than men (47.6 years).

Suicides by age

Suicides by age

Main cause of death for young adults

The proportion of suicides in total mortality varies strongly with age. As mortality among young adults is low, suicide plays a relatively important role for these ages. In the age group 10 to 25 years, traffic accidents account for most deaths, followed by suicide. Between 25 and 45 years, suicide is even the most common cause of death. After the age of 45, other causes of death become more common, and the proportion of suicides in total deaths decreases substantially.

The suicide rate among persons aged between 40 and 60 years has increased in recent years, while rates for young and old ages have decreased. In 2004 47 percent of victims were in the age group 40 to 60 years. At the end of the nineties this was still 36 percent.

Hanging most common method

Two-thirds of people who commit suicide are men. They are most likely to choose a violent method to kill themselves. More than half hang themselves. 
One third of women hang themselves. One quarter take an overdose of medicine. Relatively just as many women as men jump in front of a train: one in nine suicide victims choose this method.
In each age group hanging is the most popular method. Train suicides are relatively common among young people, but rare among older people.

Suicides per municipality of 100 thousand inhabitants or more, 2000-2004

Suicides per municipality of 100 thousand inhabitants or more, 2000-2004

Inhabitants of big cities overrepresented

Every year, 15 out of every 100 thousand boys and men aged 10 years and older kill themselves. For women this figure is 7. The number of suicides is one quarter larger among inhabitants of large municipalities (with more than 100 thousand inhabitants) than among people who liver in smaller and medium-sized municipalities. There are large difference between the large municipalities: the suicide rate in Groningen is 60 percent higher than the national average, and suicides also occur more often than average in Amsterdam (40 percent more) and Eindhoven (30 percent more).

Jan Hoogenboezem and Joop Garssen