1,894 suicides in 2016

The number of suicide deaths has been on the rise in recent years, but related to population size and composition has remained at the same level since 2013, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports based on newly released figures.

Last year 1,894 people took their own lives, i.e. 23 more than in 2015 and equal to an average 5.2 suicides on a daily basis. Taking into account population growth and ageing, the suicide rate is at the level of the early 1990s (11.1 per 100 thousand residents). In the Netherlands, twice as many men as women commit suicide; the totals for 2016 were 1,279 men and 615 women.

Most suicides in middle age bracket, increase among over-60s

Four in every ten suicides are committed by middle-aged people. Last year, the number of suicides in this age group (40-59) declined by 5 percent relative to 2015. There were mainly more suicide deaths in the older age group (60 years and up), where the number has increased since 2012,to 647 in 2016. One-third of all suicides are committed by people aged 60 or over. Among those under the age of 20, the suicide death toll was 48 in both 2015 and 2016.

In the 10-39 age bracket, mortality is relatively low: 1.4 percent of total annual mortality. Suicide accounts for nearly one-quarter of these deaths (463 out of a total of 2,031). More 10 to 39-year-olds die from suicide than from cancer (435), fatal road accidents (168) or cardiovascular diseases (161). In the 40-59 age bracket, suicide is the most common cause of death after cancer and cardiovascular diseases. From the age of 60 onwards, more people die from natural causes and, with advancing age, death from suicide becomes rarer.

Most suicides in Groningen, fewest in Zuid-Holland

In relative terms, the province of Groningen has the highest number of suicides. The rate per 100 thousand residents was 14.7 in 2016, versus 11.1 as the nationwide average. The provinces of Friesland and Limburg also show relatively high rates. Proportionally, the province of Zuid-Holland has the lowest number of suicides.

The suicide rate in the four largest Dutch municipalities is below the national average. The municipality of Utrecht had the lowest rate among the four at 8.2 suicides per 100 thousand residents.

Lowest suicide rates in Southern Europe

The Dutch suicide rate (11.1 per 100 thousand) in 2014 was almost equal to the EU average (11.3 per 100 thousand). The most recent figures show that Lithuania has the highest rate (31.5 per 100 thousand residents), followed by Hungary and Latvia. The neighbouring countries also have higher suicide rates than the Netherlands.
Suicide rates in most countries in Southern Europe are remarkably low. Cyprus (4.5 per 100 thousand) and Greece (5 per 100 thousand) have the lowest rates, followed by Italy and the United Kingdom.