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Suicide attempts in North America 

Suicide attempts in North America
Chapter:
Suicide attempts in North America
Author(s):

Morton M Silverman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0019
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date: 17 August 2019

North America comprises Canada, the United States of America (USA), Mexico, and the Caribbean Island nations. North America covers 9,355,000 square miles (24,230,000 square kilometres). The two largest countries, Canada and the United States of America, have populations of approximately 33.4 million and 301.1 million respectively, and are home to multiple ethnic and racial groups, including Native Americans and immigrants from many other continents. The suicide rate in Canada has tended to be higher than that of the USA during the last two decades. There is virtually no reliable data on suicide and suicide attempt rates in North American countries other than Canada and the USA.

Suicide was the third leading cause of death for the age group 15–19 years in the USA during 2000. In Canada, suicide was the second leading cause of death for the age group 15–24 years, and the leading cause of death for men aged 25–29 and 40–44, together with women aged 30–34, and it is estimated that there are at least 100 attempts for every completed suicide. Furthermore, there are substantial variations across gender, age, and ethnic groups.

Suicide attempts in North America are a growing concern. Suicide attempts are known to be a primary risk factor for future suicidal behaviours, and those who have previously attempted suicide are at an increased risk of death by suicide. Brickman and Mintz (2003) claim that suicide attempt rates have more than doubled from 600 to 1600/100,000 from 1992–1999, with indications of continuously increasing. Therefore, more epidemiological research needs to be done in order to understand this problem.

This chapter examines published surveillance records and hospital records on the prevalence, trends, social and demographic factors of suicide attempts in North America.

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