These were among the sobering facts revealed in a report released by the WHO, "Preventing Suicide, A Global Imperative". The report noted that an estimated 8 lakh suicide deaths occurred worldwide in 2012. It is the second leading cause of death in the 1529 age group.
India in 2012 recorded nearly 2.6 lakh suicides, dwarfing China's 1.2 lakh.Its overall rate of suicides (incidents per lakh population) was 12th at 20.9. The worst countries on this parameter were North and South Korea, Guyana, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. Hungary, Japan, the Russian Federation and Belarus also had higher suicide rates than India. The Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway and Denmark--often perceived as societies with high suicide rates--had much lower rates.
In richer countries, three times as many men commit suicide as women, but in low and middle-income countries, the male-to-female ratio is much lower at 1.5 men to each woman.
Globally, suicides account for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women. Only in Iraq and Indonesia was the proportion of women to men among those committing suicide higher than in these countries.
India, despite its horrific statistics, has actually seen a decline in the tendency to commit suicide since 2012, with the rate declining by 9.2% over this 12-year period.
China, in the same period, saw its suicide rate drop by 59%.
India is a clear exception to the global pattern of the 70+ age group having the highest suicide rates. At 21.1 per lakh population, suicides among this age group are only about as common as among the entire population.
The report revealed that ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally. It also listed various risk factors that contribute to suicides.
Risk factors associated with the health system and society at large include difficulties in accessing health care and in receiving the care needed, easy availability of the means for suicide, inappropriate media reporting that sensationalizes suicide and increases the risk of "copycat" suicides, and stigma against people who seek help for suicidal behaviours, or for mental health and substance abuse problems.