JEDDAH: “I feel glad that my children will have very less chances of having suicidal tendencies since they are growing up in the Kingdom.”
This was the reaction of Noora, a Saudi woman, to a recent report that the Kingdom has the lowest suicide rate.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2012 showed that Saudi Arabia, along with Syria, ranked the lowest among 171 countries in terms of suicide, with an average 0.4 cases per year per 100,000 people.
Guyana is on top of the WHO list with a 44.2 cases per 100,000 population, followed by South Korea with 28.9, Sri Lanka with 28.8, Lithuania with 28.2 and Suriname with 27.6.
Mozambique (27.4), Nepal (24.9), Tanzania (24.9), Kazakhstan (23.6) and Burundi (23.1) round up the Top 10 in the list.
According to WHO, around 800,000 suicides are recorded every year around the world, and cases vary according to economic conditions and age groups. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-25-year-olds,” the report said.
India was No. 11 with a rate of 21.1. But being the world’s second most populous nation, it is at the top in actual numbers, with approximately 264,172 cases in a year, based on the United Nations population estimates for 2012.
China, the world’s most populous nation, ranked a far No. 95 with a suicide ratio of 7.8 per 100,000 population. But in actual numbers, it accounts for approximately 108,030 suicide cases in a year, the second highest.
Russia was No. 14 in the WHO list with a ratio of 19.5 per 100,000 population, or approximately 27,852 in actual numbers.
In contrast, the United States, which was No. 50 in the list with a 12.1 ratio but is the world’s third most populous, has approximately 38,720 suicide cases in a year.
For Saudi Arabia, with a population estimated at 28.8 million in 2012, the actual number of suicides would be about 115 in one year.
In the WHO list, apart from Saudi Arabia and Syria, the 11 countries with the lowest suicide rates (less than 2 per 100,000) are Muslim countries, with the exception of Jamaica. The others are Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Libya and Algeria
Yazeed Mohammed Al-Shehri, assistant professor of mental health at King Abdulaziz University, said the main cause of suicide is depression and lack of happiness.
“Depression due to the death of a loved one or a dramatic shift in one’s life can be self-treated, if it is in the early stages,” he told Arab News.
“One of Islam’s great wisdoms is prayers and their timings, which could help against the early stages of depression. In addition, Islam forbids a person from harming himself or herself, let alone commit suicide,” he said.
On the comparatively lower rate of suicide cases in the Kingdom, Al-Shehri said Saudi society is a religious one and religion generally helps in keeping off depression.
“The more spiritual a person is, the more happy he or she is.”