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Suicide Rates

Every 20 to 30 minutes, someone in the United States takes his or her own life; and more than 30,000 people kill themselves each year, a fact that makes suicide one of the top ten causes of death in the industrialized parts of the world (Berman & Jobes, 1991). There is some evidence to indicate that the number of actual suicides is probably 25 to 30 percent higher than that recorded.

Bongar (1991) reports that suicide rates are believed to be higher than the actual numbers recorded because many deaths that are officially recorded as accidental, such as single-auto crashes, drownings, or falls from great heights are actually suicides. Indeed, Bongar estimates that for every person who completes a suicide, eight to ten persons make the attempt.

Diekstra (1990) reports that suicide is affected by several different demographics. For example, men are more prone to complete suicide than are women; this despite the fact that women attempt suicide three times as often as men. Further, men and women are different in terms of how they suicide. Men most frequently choose firearms as the means of suicide; however, poisoning and asphyxiation via barbiturates are the preferred means for women.

It is believed that men's selection of the more violent methods of suicide is why they successfully suicide more frequently than women; their choice of methods makes it more likely that they will complete the act. Recent studies however (see: Berman & Jobes, 1991) have indicated that women are increasingly choosing firearms and explosives as methods of suicide representing a 55.9 percent increase in the selection of these methods by women over the last twenty years. It may be that this change in the way women suicide is related to a change in role definitions of women in society.

Marital status and religion also affect the suicide rate.

In terms of marital status, the lowest incidence of suicide is found among people who are married, ...

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