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Between 300 and 420 Israelis of all ages, including 12-year-olds, have committed suicide during the last decade, according to the latest statistics collected by the Health Ministry.
The most common age for attempting suicide is 19, with 174 tries per 100,000 people, 192.9 in women and 155 in men. The rates have remained stable over time, with attempts more common during the summer months and at the beginning of the week than at other times.
The ministry said it released its updated figures to increase awareness of the phenomenon, target high-risk groups and find ways to reduce the number of attempts and actual suicides.
The data are based on material provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics after doctors determined the cause of death in reports to the ministry. Most suspected suicides are handled by the L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir.
In 2003, the year with the most recent figures, 417 people - including 65 people aged 15 to 24 - killed themselves. Compared to other deve loped countries, the suicide rate in Israel is low; sixth from the bottom in a list of 32 nations. But when figures of only male teens are looked at, Israel ranks 13th of 32 countries. Suicide rates among adult men over 65 put Israel in ninth place from t he bottom, but among elderly women it is 15th out of 32.
Suicide comprises one percent of the causes of death in people over 15. More women attempt suicide, but more men succeed. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young men aged 15 to 24 and third among young women of that age group, the ministry reported.
Among 12-year-olds, the rate was 6.9 attempted suicides per 100,000; at 25 it was 97.8; at 35 it was 92.1; at 45 it was 64.2; and at 54 it was 49.9. Between 55 and 64 years old t he attempted suicide rate was 35.5; between 65 and 74 it was 49; and for people over 85 it was 77.9.
More than half of those who attempt suicide and reach hospital emergency rooms are hospitalized as in-patients. Half of those aged 15 to 44 are hospitali zed, compared to two-thirds of those who are middle-aged and three-quarters of those over 65.
Jews are much more likely to commit suicide than Arabs, but those Arabs who do kill themselves are more likely to be teenagers and young adults than older peopl e. Fifteen to 24 was the most common age range of Arabs who committed suicide.
Married people aged 25 to 64 are much less likely to kill themselves than singles, divorcees or widow(er)s. Men aged 25 to 44 who are widowers or divorced are eight times more l ikely to commit suicide, and singles are four times more likely than married men to kill themselves.
The main cities with the highest suicide rates are Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa, while the Jerusalem area has a much lower suicide rate.p