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Suicide prevention in France 

Suicide prevention in France
Chapter:
Suicide prevention in France
Author(s):

Véronique Narboni

and Jean-Pierre Soubrier

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0117
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date: 22 August 2019

France has often been described as an ideal place to live: fine wining and dining, lovely villages and cities, where the pursuit of happiness defines the quality of life. Despite this positive image, another face of French society emerges in a country with one of the highest suicide rates in Europe.

Every year, more than 10,000 people commit suicide in France; representing 1 suicide every 50 minutes. However, recent publications from the High Level Committee on Public Health (Haut comité de Santé publique), state that these figures are underestimated by about 20 per cent. Reasons for underestimation are mainly due to the fact that most suicides are ‘hidden’ behind other more obvious causes of death, such as accidents and drug poisoning, or the simple fact that suicide is not identified as such.

After a significant increase in the 1980s, suicide rates in France have been gradually dropping since 1993. However, today, death by suicide remains high, which is double of that by car accidents. Furthermore, it has been reported that between 160,000 and 180,000 suicide attempts take place every year, representing 16–18 times the number of completed suicides.

In France, suicide is the first cause of death in the 35–44 age group, and the second cause of death in the 15–24 age group, according to the latest statistical analysis (INSERM 2005).

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