Suicides in Serbia at the Beginning of the 21st Century and Trends in the Past Fifty Years

  • Goran Penev Demographic Research Centre, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Biljana Stanković Demographic Research Centre, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade (Serbia)
Keywords: suicides, suicide rates, suicide prevention, Serbia

Abstract

In 2006 in Serbia, 1444 persons committed suicide (19.5 per 100.000 population. Compared to the early 50s of the 20th century, the number of suicides has nearly doubled, but there has been a moderate decrease in the last 15 years. Similar, but somewhat more moderate tendencies are noted in the change of the value of the suicide rates. The lowest suicide rates were recorded during the 1950s, around 12 per 100.000, and the highest in the last decade of the 20th century when the rate reached 20 suicides per 100.000 inhabitants.

The highest suicide rate is among the elderly, and there is also a noticable tendency of increase in the share of the elderly in the total number of suicides, which is primarily the consequence of intense demographic aging. With youth, the last thirty years note a decline of both the number of suicides and the value of the suicide rates. The number of young  people aged 15-24 who have committed suicide in 2006 is less than half of the number from 1971 (decreased from 150 to 66), and the values of suicide rates are also significantly low (decreased from 11.5 to 6.9 per 100.000). Despite certain changes in the values of age-specific suicide rates achieved in the last 50 years, their age patterns of suicide mortality can be characterized as stable.

Men are dominant among persons who have committed suicide, with double the number of women, and the highest recorded value of the suicide rate of women never surpassed the value of the lowest suicide rate in men. In terms of marital status, the total rate of suicides is highest with widowers, then divorced persons, married persons, and lowest rates are with celibates. In all four groups, suicide rates are at least 3 times higher for men. There is also a clear connection between the level of education and suicide rates, for both sexes, with the suicide rate decreasing with higher educational level.

In terms of total suicide rate, Serbia is currently in the top half of the European list of countries, closer to countries with highest suicide rates than fifteen years ago. Results achieved in other countries, especially in some former communist countries, imply that defining and conducting a strategy for suicide prevention could have significant effect on the decrease of suicides in Serbia as well.

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Published
2007-12-28
How to Cite
Penev, G., & Stanković, B. (2007). Suicides in Serbia at the Beginning of the 21st Century and Trends in the Past Fifty Years. Stanovništvo, 45(2), 25-62. https://doi.org/10.2298/STNV0702025P
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Articles

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