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    Suicides Increase During Spring And Recession

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    There is a number of factors which can contribute to the risk of suicide, such as psychiatric disorder, drug or alcohol abuse, previous self-harm, upbringing, smoking and so on. Among employed individuals, doctors (in particular, female), veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and farmers are all at most risk of committing suicide as they have easy access to drugs or poisons which can be used for killing oneself. These are the findings that have been reported in the latest issue of the medical journal the Lancet.

    More and more people commit suicide during a current time of global recession. Suicidal attempts also increase during springtime, making this spring a dangerous combination. Each year, nearly 1 million people commit suicide, which accounts for 1.5 per cent of all deaths throughout the world, according to researchers Keith Hawton of Oxford University and Kees van Heeringen of University Hospital in Gent, Belgium. The scientists also found that there is a great difference in suicide rates between countries and regions of the world and even across different latitudes.

    Within Europe, rates are generally higher in northern countries compared to southern countries. Finland, Latvia, Hungary, China, Japan and Kazakhstan all have exceptionally high rates of suicide, 20 per 100,000 people or higher. In Lithuania the rate is almost 40 per 100.000 people. Suicide is a major concern in former Soviet republics, the study says. More than 30 per cent of all suicides worldwide occur in China, where 3.6 per cent of all deaths happen by suicide. This number is far above its proportion of the global population. In developed countries, the male-to-female ratio for suicide is between 2 to 1 and 4 to 1, and the numbers seem to be climbing up. Asian countries typically show much lower male-to-female ratios, but these might also be increasing. However, in China more female than male appear to die by killing themselves.

    Just below the world average of 15 suicides per 100,000 people are the United States, Canada and Australia, while rates dropped below 5 per 100,000 in Greece, Mexico, Brazil, Iran and Egypt. In the United States, white individuals have higher suicide rates compared to Hispanics or African Americans, though this gap is narrowing due to a surge in death rates among young black men, the investigators say. In most countries, senior citizens have the highest suicide rates, however, in the past 50 years rates have risen in young people as well, and particularly in men during springtime.

    Differences between the two genders show up in methods of suicide chosen. In general, men prefer to choose more violent means for suicide, such as fire arms and hanging, while women opt for less violent means, such as poisoning themselves. Different populations use differing suicide methods. For example, women in South Asia commonly set fire to themselves to commit suicide.

    According to one theory, the reasons behind suicide are biological, with the change of season after a period of extended dark days without sun, provoking some as yet unknown neuro-chemical imbalance. Another theory is social: witnessing other individuals who seem to be more happy with their life may be especially hard to take at that time of year. Suicide, not surprisingly, is quite common among people without a job, though there may also be a secondary association with mental illness or psychiatric disorder, which can often be a barrier to finding and maintaining a job.

    The authors said that future studies and research on this matter must concentrate on the "development and assessment of empirically based suicide-prevention and treatment protocols. The challenges of preventing suicide in developing countries need particular attention, because most research comes from developed countries, but most deaths by suicides happen in developing countries."

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