Note: This article is not intended as a replacement for suicide counselling. If you or someone you know may be at risk of committing suicide, contact emergency services in your area immediately to get professional advice. Your local phone book will have the telephone numbers of distress lines and support agencies.
On average, about 3,900 Canadians take their own lives every year - this often exceeds the number of deaths caused by road accidents. Although more women attempt suicide, about four times as many men as women die from their suicide attempt. The reason for this is that men generally use more lethal means such as firearms, hanging, or asphyxiation (suffocation). Women often use drug overdoses or asphyxiation, or they cut themselves. Firearms are used in about 30% of all suicides. Of all deaths that involve firearms, about 80% are estimated to be suicides.
Certain groups have disproportionately high suicide rates compared to the general population:
- adolescents - in Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all death among people who are 15 to 24 years of age
- young men between the ages of 20 and 24
- senior men over the age of 80
- prison inmates, for whom suicide is the leading cause of death
- people of First Nations and Inuit descent, who have suicide rates 3 to 6 times greater than the national average; this is even higher for adolescents 15 to 19 years old, with suicide occurring up to 7 times more frequently than for other Canadian youths
- people with prior histories of attempted suicide