To compare suicide rates and characteristics in East Asian and Western countries.
Data from five East Asian jurisdictions and five English-speaking Western countries were obtained from national offices responsible for collection of statistics. Data were graphed to demonstrate differences between East Asian and Western age patterns of suicide. Relevant literature was reviewed, including observations concerning suicide rates in various non-English-speaking European countries.
Age patterns and rates of suicide differ between East and West and across time, but with Japan’s and the United States patterns progressively becoming more similar.
Sociocultural factors affect suicide patterns and rates; choice of method and cohort effects affect rates. Strategies for prevention of suicide should give attention to culture-related precipitants of suicide.