The number of suicides committed in Estonia has dropped threefold in the past 25 years, yet suicides continue to be a big problem claiming many lives, including the lives of young people, data analyzed by Statistics Estonia shows.
A more than threefold reduction has been registered in the numbers of people killed in suicides in Estonia from 1994 to 2019. The decrease was faster until 2006, slowing down after that. Between 2006 and 2019, the number of suicides in Estonia dropped by one-fifth.
When looking at absolute numbers, it has to be taken into consideration that the size of various gender and age groups changes over time, Statistics Estonia said, so comparing absolute numbers is not the best way to compare.
Comparison based on a population with previously determined sizes and proportions of gender and age groups shows that in 2006-2019, the number of suicides dropped by one-tenth, or by less than one percent per year on average.
According to Statistics Estonia, this begs the question of whether instead of a slow downward trend we have reason to speak about a stable state of affairs with periodic fluctuations.
To reduce the impact of random fluctuations, Statistics Estonia looked at average figures for three years. The first three years are those at the beginning of the period under scrutiny or 2006-2008 and the other three years are 2017-2019.
The comparison reveals different changes in the statistics for men and women by age group. In five age groups among men and in three among women, the rate of reduction was by less than 10 percent. Reductions by more than 20 percent were registered in 10 age groups among men and in seven among women.
Among women, however, the number of suicides increased in five age groups. The most worrying dynamics was seen in women of the age groups comprising ages 20-34. While the indicator for that segment is several times smaller than that for men, it represents a considerable increase.
It is notable that the numbers of suicides have not declined at the same speed as the numbers of violent deaths, and the proportion that suicides make up among violent deaths has increased substantially. In recent years, suicides account for one in four violent deaths for all gender and age groups taken together.
In 2019, violent deaths in Estonia numbered 769, of which 25 percent were suicides. In 2018, the number of violent deaths was 798 and 24.2 percent of them were suicides.
The table below shows the proportion of suicides from violent deaths, 2009–2019
More information can be seen on the Statistics Estonia website.
Editor's note: Additional data was added to this article.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright