Suicide rate rises in Finland



After a steady decline during the 1990s, suicides among women in Finland started to rise three years ago. As well, the number of Finnish men committing suicide is increasing.

Researchers say the rise is due to an increase of risk factors for suicide in Finland, especially alcohol abuse and depression.

“Alcohol consumption began to rise in 1995, and this has a delayed effect on suicide rates,” Jouko Lönnqvist of Finland’s National Public Health Institute. Lönnqvist told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. “Depression is the greatest risk factor in suicides, and alcohol is the second-greatest.”

Finns drink twice as much as they did in 1970 – the equivalent of more than nine litres of pure alcohol per person each year.

“The significance of alcohol consumption is great in Finland, because alcohol is often what Finnish men use as a refuge in both joy and sorrow, in victory and defeat,” said Malla Upanne, head of development at Finland’s National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health.

Depression is also common: 3.6 per cent of men and 6.5 per cent of women suffer from depression. About 44 per cent of Finns took medication for depression last year, up from just over eight per cent in 1991 and 16 per cent in 1994.

The greatest number of suicides in Finland occur among middle-aged people.

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