POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 61 Suicide is a leading cause of death in young people Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages. In 2009, it ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death, preceded only by accidents (unintentional injuries). Because they do not generally die from natural causes, suicide represents a relatively large percentage of all deaths for younger age groups (15 to 34). After the age of 35, suicides as a proportion of all deaths start to decline as other causes become more common (Chart 5). Chart 5: Suicides as a percentage of all deaths, by age group and sex, Canada, 2009 In 2009, 202 individuals aged 15 to 19 committed suicide. This represented almost a quarter (23%) of all deaths in this age group, up from 9% in 1974. The relatively higher proportion of suicide deaths for this age group is due to the decline in overall mortality rates, a trend driven mainly by declines in accidental deaths which continue to be the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year olds. Despite the progress in reducing deaths from accidents, however, suicide rates for this age group did not change significantly during this period (see Chart 6). Chart 6: Age-specific mortality with suicide and accident rates, per 100,000, ages 15 to 19, Canada, 1974 to 2009 Married people are the least likely to commit suicide For both men and women, married people were the least likely group to commit suicide. Single (never married) people were the most likely, at a rate 3.3 times higher, followed by widowed and divorced. Single men were much more likely to die from suicide than those who were married. Among women, widows had highest rates of suicide. The social support and companionship provided by marriage may be important conditions that help decrease the probability of suicide. The differences according to marital status may partially account for the higher rate of suicide amongst people aged 40 to 59 as people transition from married to divorced and widowed. While marriage provides a protective effect across all age groups, suicide rates among the divorced and widowed are particularly high for those aged 40 to 59 years. Divorced people in this age group have a suicide rate 1.7 times higher than divorced people of other ages. SUICIDE RATES: AN OVERVIEW ►