Suicide rate falling in Taiwan, more attempts reported

A 1995 Lifeline volunteer worker. CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — While the number of people who committed suicide in Taiwan fell in 2019, the number of suicide attempts rose to over 35,000, National Suicide Prevention Center Director Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said on Sunday.

The number of people who died by their own hand reached a peak of 4,406, or 19.3 deaths per 100,000 persons, in 2006, but has been on the decline, falling to 3,864 last year, representing an average of four suicides reported per hour, Lee said.

As a result, suicide ceased to be one of the top 10 causes of death in 2010, Lee added.

Compared with 2018, the number of suicides among young people aged 15-24 increased by 47 last year, up 22.4 percent, while the number among Taiwanese aged 65 and over rose by five (0.5 percent), that among those aged 14 and below remained the same, and those among other age groups fell, Lee said.

However, the number of reported suicide attempts surged to 35,324 last year, up from 33,207 in 2018 and 30,619 in 2017, according to Lee.

Among those who tried to kill themselves last year, 20 percent blamed peer pressure at school and feelings of stress and anxiety on the job, while 80 percent were associated with emotional disorders and mental problems, according to Lee.

According to the center’s statistics, the number of reported suicide attempts among women was 1.82 times that among men last year, while young people aged 15-24 accounted for the lion’s share of the reported suicide attempts at 22.6 percent of the total, followed by 21 percent among those aged 35-44 and 18.8 percent among those aged 25-34.

Around 1.216 million people, or 5.9 percent of Taiwan’s population aged 15 and older suffered from emotional problems this year, Lee said, citing the results of a survey conducted by the suicide prevention center.

The number was down from 8.3 percent last year, according to Lee.

In addition, Lee went on, about 2.474 million people, or 12.1 percent of the population aged 15 and older have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime, while 2.2 percent, or 443,000 individuals of the population thought about committing suicide over the past year.