Despite efforts to reduce suicide globally, the Americas is the only region in the world where suicide mortality has been increasing since 2000. The majority (79%) of suicides in the Americas occur among men, but suicide among women has also been increasing. In 2019 there were more than 97,000 suicides in the region.
The analysis published in The Lancet also highlights that the average suicide mortality rate among males in the region declined as per capita health spending grew, while that of females declined as the number of physicians employed per 10,000 population increased.
The article Contextual factors associated with country-level suicide mortality in the Americas, 2000-2019, identified that while homicide and the use of alcohol and other substances are associated with an increase in suicide mortality among males, educational inequality was the main factor among females. For both sexes, unemployment was associated with an increase in suicide mortality.
“In order to prevent suicide we must go beyond limiting access to methods of suicide, strengthening socioemotional skills, and improving access to mental health care,” Dr. Renato Oliveira e Souza, head of Mental Health and Substance Use at PAHO, and one of the authors of the article, said. “We must also address the contextual factors that affect men and women differently, which require an all-of-society approach.”