Suicide rates in Canada increasing in girls aged 10-19

April 2, 2012

Suicide rates in Canada are increasing for girls but decreasing for boys, with suffocation now the most common method for both sexes, according to an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Suicide is the second most common cause of death for Canadians aged 10-34, particularly in those aged 10-19 years. Previous studies of young people aged 15-25 years in Canada indicate that rates are fairly stable, although there is little literature on suicide in children aged 10-14 years.

Researchers from the of Canada looked at from Statistics Canada between 1980 and 2008 to determine suicide patterns in children and adolescents aged 10-19 years. They found that, while the suicide rate for Canadians in that age group decreased an average of 1% each year from 1980-2008, there were variations by age and sex.

In 2008, there were 233 suicides in young Canadians, accounting for 20% of all deaths for people aged 10-19 years. For children 10-14 years old, the suicide rate was 1.2 per 100 000, and 88% of these were by suffocation.

Suicide rates for boys and male adolescents remained stable or declined compared with increased rates for females in these age groups. for girls aged 10-14 years increased from 0.6 per 100 000 in 1980 to 0.9 per 100 000 in 2008. Rates for increased from 3.7 to 6.2 per 100 000 during the same period. Deaths by suffocation for females increased by an annual average of 8% in both . Among female adolescents, deaths from guns or poison decreased significantly (an average of 7.8% and 4.6% respectively per year).

The trend of suicide by suffocation moving to younger ages may be partly due to cases of the "choking game" (self -strangulation without intent to cause permanent harm) that have been misclassified as suicides.

"The prevalence and influence of the Internet and social media in the lives of young Canadians cannot be discounted in this discussion and warrants further research to understand its risks related to suicide," the authors write. "The term 'cybersuicide' has evolved to describe the numerous websites, chat rooms and blogs promoting suicide and suicidal ideation. Such sites are obviously troubling; yet, paradoxically, the Internet and social media also hold potential benefits for the prevention of suicide."

In a related commentary, Dr. Laurence Kirmayer from the Jewish General Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, writes that, while the Internet has helped spread information on self-harm and suicide, "social and economic deprivation in a region is associated with higher rates of suicide."

"Economic inequities may expose young people to a wide range of stressors and negative life events in their families and communities, as well as diminish their own hopes and expectations for a positive future with meaningful opportunities for work and life," writes Dr. Kirmayer.

He notes that the suicide rate for Aboriginal young people is three to five times higher than that for non-Aboriginal and that looking at regional differences in national data might be helpful in addressing the issue in this demographic.

"Understanding the impact of these larger social determinants on young people's identities, resilience and well-being may hold the key to further reductions in suicide in the years to come," Kirmayer concludes.

Explore further: China's suicide rate 'among highest in world'

More information:

Related Stories

China's suicide rate 'among highest in world'

September 8, 2011

A person tries to kill themselves in China every two minutes, the government and state media said Thursday, giving the country one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Recommended for you

First language wires brain for later language-learning

December 1, 2015

You may believe that you have forgotten the Chinese you spoke as a child, but your brain hasn't. Moreover, that "forgotten" first language may well influence what goes on in your brain when you speak English or French today.

Anxiety can kill your social status

December 1, 2015

Neuroscientists at EPFL identify a brain region that links anxious temperament to low social status. The researchers were able to tweak social hierarchy in animals by using vitamin B3.

Watching eyes prevent littering

December 1, 2015

People are less likely to drop litter if it has printed eyes on it, researchers at Newcastle University, UK, have found. An image of watching eyes reduced the odds of littering by around two thirds.

How can I tell if she's lying?

November 27, 2015

Sarcasm, white lies and teasing can be difficult to identify for those with certain disorders – new video inventory developed at McGill may help


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.