POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 57 Highlights • In 2009, there were 3,890 suicides in Canada, a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people. • The suicide rate for males was three times higher than the rate for females (17.9 versus 5.3 per 100,000). • Although suicide deaths affect almost all age groups, those aged 40 to 59 had the highest rates. • Married people had a lower suicide rate than those who were single, divorced or widowed. Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable death. It is estimated, that in 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians under the age of 75 as a result of suicides. Research shows that mental illness is the most important risk factor for suicide; and that more than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental or addictive disorder. Depression is the most common illness among those who die from suicide, with approximately 60% suffering from this condition. No single determinant, including important risk factor for suicide; and that more than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental mental illness, is enough on its own to cause a suicide. Rather, suicide typically results from the interaction of many factors, for example: mental illness, marital breakdown, financial hardship, deteriorating physical health, a major loss, or a lack of social support. This article presents the latest statistics on suicide, looking primarily at trends and variations by sex, age and marital status. The main source of data is the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database. The Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database collects demographic and cause of death information annually from all provincial and territorial vital statistics registries on all deaths in Canada. Suicide data from this source are somewhat underreported due to the difficult nature of classifying suicide and the time lag in determining this as the cause of death, which may vary from year to year and from one region to another. Chart 1: Age-standardized suicide rate, per 100,000, by sex, Canada, 1950-2009 Deaths by suicide, it should be noted, reflect only a small percentage of suicide attempts. It is estimated that for every completed suicide there are as many as 20 attempts. Although males are more likely to die from suicide, females are three to four times more likely to attempt it. Furthermore, females are hospitalized for attempted suicide 1.5 times more frequently than males. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that females tend to use less fatal methods, such as poisoning—the most common cause of self-harm hospital admissions— whereas males tend to use more violent methods such as hanging and firearms (see Chart 2). SUICIDE RATES: AN OVERVIEW ►