Swiss suicide rate continues downward trend

Flowers in memory of a suicide who jumped from a bridge in Lausanne. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The year the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the number of suicides in the country fell below 1,000 for the first time since 1964, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) said on Monday.

This content was published on October 3, 2022 minutes

The long-term trend is thus very much downwards: since a peak in the early 1980s, when almost 1,600 people were killing themselves each year, numbers have steadily fallen even as the population has grown, the FSO writesExternal link.

Over the past four decades, the number of suicides per 100,000 residents has dropped by over 60%, from 24.9 to 9.5. The current situation thus reflects the international level: a reportExternal link by the World Health Organisation, using data from 2019, puts the global age-standardised suicide rate at 9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The most common suicide profile in Switzerland in 2020 was older and male: two-thirds of the total were men, while 70% of all suicides were above the age of 45.

The FSO says that the psychological effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which involved various periods of isolation and lockdown in 2020, did not have a serious effect on the mental health of the majority of the population. However, it says, some groups – especially younger people – experienced problems: among younger women, for example, more suicide attempts were registered, although the rate of successful suicides did not hugely increase.

The FSO also writes that while non-assisted suicides dropped in 2020, the number of assisted suicides rose by 4.6%, to 1,251 cases. The large majority of these concerned people older than 65 or people suffering from an incurable – and lethal – disease.

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