Some 11 thousand Brazilians commit suicide every year

The suicide rate among men was reported four times higher than among

Published in 23/09/2017 - 14:54 By Andreia Verdélio reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Rio de Janeiro - Parte da campanha Setembro Amarelo, ato na orla de Copacabana marca o Dia Mundial de Prevenção ao Suicídio (Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil)

As part of the Yellow September initiatives, a demonstration on the promenade on Copacabana beach marked the World Suicide Prevention Day.Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil

Approximately 11 thousand people take their own lives every year in Brazil. People older than 70 and indigenous youths show the highest rates.

According to data from the first Epidemiological Report on Suicide Attempts and Deaths in Brazil, released Thursday (Sep. 21) by the Health Ministry, 62,804 people committed suicide in the country from 2011 to 2016. Of this total, 79% were men, 21% women.

The publication of the report comes as part of the Yellow September initiatives, aimed at suicide prevention. The survey shows that 62% of suicide cases were by hanging. Among other common methods are intoxication and gunfire.

Fátima Marinho, director at the Health Ministry Department for the Monitoring of Non-infectious Diseases and Conditions and Health Promotion, believes the actual figure is higher since a number of cases go undiagnosed. Among higher social classes, she says, the topic is taboo due to issues linked to life insurance and diagnoses made by family doctors. “We usually register poorer people's deaths because the body goes to the Medical Examiner's Office,” he explained.

In Brazil, the highest rates are reported among the 70-year-olds and older—8.9 suicides for every 100 thousand people. Marinho claims, however, that the elderly population has been recently on the rise in absolute numbers. They also suffer from chronic diseases, depression, and abandonment in their families. She further explains that the high suicide rate among elders is a worldwide phenomenon.


The suicide rate among men was four times higher than among women for 2011 – 2015. The rate reaches 8.7 suicides among men and 2.4 among women for every 100 thousand people.

The proportion of deaths by suicide was also higher among unmarried people: 60.4% are single, widowed, or divorced, and 31.5% are married or in a civil union. “Married men commit less suicide. Marriage is a protection factor for men and a risk factor for women,” Marinho said, adding that a link has been found between suicide attempts by women and domestic violence.

Guaranis-kaiowás - Marcello Casal/Arquivo Agência Brasil

Between 2011 and 2015, the suicide rate in Brazil was higher among the indigenous population.Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil


Between 2011 and 2015, the suicide rate in Brazil was higher among the indigenous population, with 44.8% of suicides committed by indigenous people having taken place among people aged 10 to 19 years old. For every 100 thousand people, 15.2 deaths are reported among indigenous people, 5.9 among whites, 4.7 among blacks, 2.4 among Asians.

In Marinho's view, the high risk of suicide among the indigenous youth compromises the future of indigenous groups, as the child mortality rate is also alarming for this population.

According to Special Secretary for Indigenous Health Lícia Vitenti, there is a large amount of indigenous individuals dealing with alcohol abuse, territorial disputes, and conflicts involving family members and non-indigenous people. The youth also have to cope with the lack of opportunities in their future life. Suicide among the indigenous, however, is not equally to be found throughout the country, and is more prevalent among the Guarani Kaiowá, the Carajás, and the Ticunas.

Risk reduction

Over 800 thousand people take their own lives around the world every year. For this reason, in 2013, the World Health Organization devised an action plan for mental health aiming to cut the suicide rate by 10% by 2020.

Quirino Cordeiro, Health Ministry coordinator for mental health, alcohol, and other drugs, said that the government made efforts in suicide prevention, but added that the focus on the issue has been intensified. One of the strategic actions consists of the National Suicide Prevention Plan, aimed at expanding the initiatives directed at vulnerable groups.

The Health Ministry plans to expand the CAPS network (Psychosocial Care Center), also for the indigenous population. Its work reduces the risk of suicide by 14% in a given municipality. There are currently 2,463 CAPS units in operation in Brazil today.

Quirino adds that suicide prevention policies must focus on mental disorders and suicide methods. “People who commit suicide are often facing serious problems and end up trying to kill themselves in an act of despair. But if no method is in hand, they often end up not doing it,” he said, explaining that gun control is key in Brazil, since wherever the use of guns is restricted, the number of cases of suicide is lower.

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira

Fonte: Some 11 thousand Brazilians commit suicide every year

Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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