Russia has one of the highest suicide mortality rates in the world. This study investigates the development of Russian suicide mortality over a longer time period in order to provide a context within which the contemporary high level might be better understood. Annual sex- and age-specific suicide-mortality data for Russia for the period 1870Ð2007 were studied, where available. Russian suicide mortality increased 11-fold over the period. Trends in male and female suicide developed similarly, although male suicide rates were consistently much higher. From the 1990s suicide has increased in a relative sense among the young (15Ð34), while the high suicide mortality among middle-aged males has reduced.