Sunday

5th Dec 2021

Hungary holds sad record in suicide rates

  • In Hungary, men are much more likely to take their lives than women. But the reverse is true in neighbouring Slovakia (Photo: Tiago Rïbeiro)

According to recent OECD figures, Hungary and South Korea have the highest suicide rate among the world's developed nations.

Even though the quality of life in Hungary is arguably not so bad, it is here, out of all the EU countries, that people are the most likely to take their own lives: out of every 100,000 inhabitants, 21 kill themselves. It is just a fraction less than in South Korea on 21.5.

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Moving down the league table, the suicide rate in Japan stands at 19 per 100,000. In Finland the figure is 18. It is 14.2 in France, 14 in Switzerland, 13.2 in Poland and 12.6 in Austria. The average for the 30 OECD countries is 11.1.

The states with the lowest numbers of self-inflicted deaths are Greece (2.9), Mexico (4.3), Italy (4.8) and Great Britain (6.1).

Factoring in the the latest available numbers from the Hungarian Statistical Institute (KSH), Hungarian men commit suicide more than three times as often as women. This is a moderate gender gap compared to neighbouring Slovakia, where women are nine times as likely as men to kill themselves.

For 2008, the KSH recorded a small rise in cases of suicide, from 2,450 to 2,477, reversing the slight downward trend of the previous eight years.

In terms of a person's age, the early 50s appear to be the most difficult period for Hungarians - they are the most liable to commit suicide between 50 and 54 years of age. Young people and over 60-year-olds are much less at risk.

There is cause for optimism in the long term that Hungary will one day cease to be Europe's suicide capital. In the 19 years after the fall of the Communist regime, 15,000 fewer Hungarians killed themselves than in the 19 years before.

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