What is suicide?
Suicide is defined as intentional, self-inflicted death.

How many people die by suicide in Canada each year?
In 2012, the year with the latest figures available, 3926 Canadians died by suicide. 2972 were males and 954 were females. The suicide rate overall was 11.3 per 100,000. For males the rate was 17.3 per 100,000 and for females the rate was 5.4 per 100,000. Download the most current provincial and territorial stats.  

Is suicide illegal in Canada?
No, but attempted suicide was not removed from our Criminal Code until 1972. However, counselling suicide – sometimes referred to as aiding and abetting suicide, still remains a criminal act.

Why do people kill themselves?
Experts in the field suggest that a suicidal person is feeling so much pain that they can see no other option. They feel that they are a burden to others, and in desperation see death as a way to escape their overwhelming pain and anguish. The suicidal state of mind has been described as constricted, filled with a sense of self-hatred, rejection, and hopelessness.

Is it true that most suicides leave notes?
Notes are rarely left by someone who dies by suicide. According to Canadian researcher Dr. A. Leenaars, who has extensively studied suicide notes, the percentage of those who leave notes varies from 12 to 37% percent.This is a troubling myth because many believe a note must be present to deem a death a suicide. This can be especially important to those bereaved by a suicide. If a death is not accepted as a suicide, the grieving process can only become more difficult and closure may become more elusive.

Is it true that suicide rates are higher at Christmas?
This is not true. In fact, though the rate is fairly constant throughout the year, it rises slightly after the holidays in January and peaks in early spring. Some think the holiday season can be a protective factor for those at risk (CSP, 2013). Joiner calls it a “time of togetherness”(2010) and can definitely lessen the chances of a suicide as someone feels more connected or more obliged to make it through the holiday season in the interest of harmony.

What does ‘survivor of suicide’ mean?
An important distinction should be made using the term “suicide survivor” or “survivor of suicide”. Often, survivors are family members and friends of a loved one who died by suicide. Using an estimate of six people who are intimately affected by a suicide, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) estimates that the number of suicide survivors in the U.S. is 4.6 million, and the number grows by more than 180,000 survivors each year. It might be helpful to refer to these individuals as “loss survivors”.

Another group of survivors would be those who attempt suicide but do not die. These survivors could be called “attempt survivors”.

Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon acceptance of the term survivor at this point but hopefully one day there will be a consensus.

Do children kill themselves?
Confirmed cases of suicide in children (10 and under) are rare and under reported. Some accidental deaths of children are thought to be suicidal. These deaths may have causes such as running across a busy street, drinking poison, playing with a gun, etc. Coroners tend not to label a child’s self-inflicted death as suicide unless there is irrefutable evidence. Health care professionals can be reluctant to acknowledge suicide in children because it is painful and because they do not believe children have the resources to complete the act or the understanding that death is permanent. Learn more in our Not a Child: Children and Suicide Prevention Toolkit.

How do Canadian suicide rates compare with the US?
Our average rate of suicide in Canada for 2010 was 11.6 per 100,000. The average rate of suicide in the USA for 2010 was 12.1 per 100,000.

How do male and female suicide rates compare?
In Canada, the ratio of male to female suicide is approximately 3:1. (The United States ratio of male to female suicide is 4:1). In 2011, the rate for male suicide in Canada was 16.3 as compared to the female rate of 5.4 for the same year. Male suicide rates have been at least three times higher than for females since the 1950s, with the difference increasing to four times higher by the late 1990s. Find out more about why more men die by suicide than women.

How many suicide attempts were there last year?
We do not have national data for suicide attempt hospitalizations, but we have data for Alberta from 2010. For every death by suicide among Albertans in 2010 there were 1,833 attempted suicide/self-inflicted injury-related hospital admissions. There were 5,053 attempted suicide/self-inflicted injury-related emergency department visits. (Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research. (2012). Suicide/self-inflicted injuries in Alberta. Retrieved from  http://suicideinfo.ca/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=p9tRgQ37n5s%3D&tabid=508  

How many adolescents die by suicide in Canada?
In 2011, there were 29 deaths by suicide in Canada by youth aged 10 to 14 (12 males and 17 females.) For those aged 15-19 in 2011, there were 198 deaths by suicide (140 males and 58 females.) Find out more in our Teen Suicide Prevention Toolkit.

How many people died by suicide in the world each year?
The World Health Organization projects that 800,000 people will die from suicide this year – a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. For a world map of suicide rates, and data for more than 100 countries, visit the World Health Organization website.

How does Canada’s suicide rate compare to other causes of death?
According to Statistics Canada, in 2007, Canada’s suicide rate was 11.1 per 100,000 while the death rate for motor vehicle crashes was 6.6 per 100,000 in 2009. Canada’s homicide rate was 1.81 per 100,000 in 2009.