The Epidemiology Of Suicide
Completed suicide rates vary widely by nation. According to the latest figures available from the World Health Organization, rates in the 1990s ranged from thirty to forty per 100,000 per year for Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine to zero to five per 100,000 per year for Armenia, Greece, and Thailand. National rates of attempted suicide are not available, but it is estimated that there may be eight to ten attempts at suicide for every completed suicide.
Completed suicide rates are higher in men than in women in every country except for mainland China, where the female suicide rate exceeds the male suicide rate (Phillips, Liu, and Zhang 1999). However, in every nation, female rates of attempted suicide exceed those for men in the small samples that have been studied.
Completed suicide rates rise with age in men, but in women the peak age for suicide varies with the level of economic development in the nation. Female suicide rates peak in middle age in the most developed nations, but in young women in the least developed nations (Girard 1993). In general, attempted suicides are younger than completed suicides.
In the United States, whites and American Indians have the highest completed suicide rates, whereas Filipino Americans have the lowest rates. African Americans, Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans have intermediate rates (Lester 1998). These ethnic differences in the United States match those in other nations. For example, in Zimbabwe and South Africa, whites have higher completed suicide rates than blacks, and Philippine suicide rates are lower than the rates in China and Japan.