Suicide is a tragic fatality that affects millions of families worldwide each year. In addition to the nearly 1 million fatalities, it is estimated that 20 times as many people are injured by attempted suicide.  These suicide attempts, while not fatal, often result in disability or permanent impairment.
Research has shown that economic stresses are sometimes a contributing factor in suicides. In order to gain a better understanding of whether recent economic stresses may have impacted suicide rates, RGA recently undertook a study to analyze suicide rates before and after the 2008 financial crisis, using population data from four countries as well as insured data from RGA’s extensive database. In this article, we summarize the results of this study, which found that insured suicide experience was negatively affected by the economic crisis.
Globally, suicide is a leading cause of death; however, the experience varies greatly by region, age and gender. The Southeast Asian region has the highest suicide rate; people over age 60 have worse experience than younger people, and men are twice as likely to commit suicide as women.  There are many differences in preferred suicide method by region. Hanging is the most common method of suicide in every region, except the Americas, where firearms are the most common method of suicide. This experience is very different from the eastern Mediterranean region, where 0.3% of suicides are due to firearms. Poisonings are more common in Southeast Asia than in other parts of the world, while suicide resulting from falls is more common in Europe and the Western Pacific region than in other areas. 
The Global View
One of the main reasons for the differences in mortality rates is the method
of suicide. Groups of people who choose highly lethal means, such as firearms,
have correspondingly high fatality rates. The following table shows the fatality rates for various suicide methods in the U.S. in 2001. The overwhelming majority of suicide attempts are poisoning/overdose; however, only 2% of those attempts are fatal. 
Many factors contribute to suicide; however, studies have shown that over 90% of people who commit suicide have an underlying mental illness, such as depression.  Additionally, economic stress, such as unemployment, has been shown to contribute to suicide rates. 
We analyzed suicide trends before and after the 2008 economic crisis using population data from four countries: Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Generally, suicide rates were falling for these countries until the economic crisis, and then rates increased. The U.S. experienced increasing suicide rates for the entire period beginning in 2000.