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Increase in suicide cases in Israel in 2016

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New data have revealed the increase in suicide cases in Israel in 2016, the most recent year where full data are available. The Israeli Ministry of Health said that at that year, 390 people attempted to commit suicide, including 321 men and 69 women. Three hundred forty-two people had tried to commit suicide in 2015. This means that the suicide rate rose from 5.6 cases per 100,000 people to 6.2 cases. Most of these cases were between the ages of 25 and 64.

Suicide cases per 100,000 people have decreased since 2012. In 2012-2014, the suicide rate fell for young men aged 15 to 18 by 63 per cent, for those aged 19-21 by 65 per cent, and those between 22-24 years by 38 per cent. Suicide cases dropped to 5.6 cases per 100,000 people in 2015, compared to 8.9 ten years earlier, which raised hopes that the problem of suicidal thoughts in Israel will soon to be solved.

On the other hand, contrary to the declining trend of suicide cases, the number of suicide attempts has been steadily rising. In 2016, a total of 6,527 people had attempted to commit suicide and were transferred to emergency departments in hospitals, compared to 6,409 people in 2015. That number rose to 6,731 last year. The Safeguarding Children Board reported in 2017 that it documented 861 suicide attempts among boys and young men under the age of 17, including 292 boys under the age of 14.

READ: Lebanon witnessing a suicide attempt every six hours

The Ministry of Health said during a debate on the issue in the Education Committee of the Knesset, Monday, that it will transfer a budget of four million shekels to the Ministry of Education, in order to put into action a national program to prevent suicidal thoughts, after the ministry had announced last month the suspension of such a program due to lack of budgets. However, the allocated amount is less than the previously assigned budgets for this phenomenon in recent years, amounting to six million shekels.

Haaretz stated, Wednesday, that children nowadays are at the heart of the issue of psychological distress and ways to prevent and treat such problem that may potentially lead to suicidal tendencies.  This psychological complication may be caused due to isolation and cyberbullying. Five children under 15 have committed suicide in 2016, while three others have also put an end to their lives earlier in 2015.

The newspaper quoted experts who believed that the government is not doing enough to solve the problem. Accordingly, psychiatrist Hagai Hermesh indicated that “the number of deaths resulting from suicide attempts is higher than the number of car accidents casualties. The state allocates only four million shekels to treat individuals with suicidal thoughts, in contrast to 400 million shekels designated to reduce car accident rates.”

“Suicide is a complex behaviour that originates from several personal and environmental determinants, and it is difficult to correlate the increase or decrease of suicide attempts to only one factor”, said Prof. Gil Zalsman, director of Geha Mental Health Centre.

Zalsman added that “during the last ten years, the general trend of suicide has been gradually declining in comparison to Europe and the OECD countries. Hence, the relative decrease of such a phenomenon might be associated with an improvement in reports regarding suicide cases. The apparent rise of suicide incidents in 2016 may be either spontaneous or suggests a trend reversal, just like what happened in the United States, as there has been a 77 per cent increase in suicide rates among teenagers aged between 10 and 17. Similarly, the world has been witnessing a threefold increase in suicide cases among children aged up to 14 years. In Israel, we have been trying to study the phenomenon and decipher the reasons behind it; however, we still do not have the necessary data and statistics about the problem in 2017.”

READ: Israel academic fears the country is ‘committing suicide’

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