(photo credit: REUTERS)
The number of suicides in the country has dropped to its lowest point in the past decade, with 409 such tragedies in 2011 compared to 480 during the previous year.
Health Minister Yael German said on Tuesday that the data shows suicide is not inevitable; efforts can be made to reduce the number.
The highest rate is among new immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, and as they live here longer, their risk declines, she said. German called for an end to the stigma that has stuck to families with a loved one who ended his own life. They should not be avoided or kept at a distance, but given emotional support.
A national program to prevent suicide, with a NIS 55 million budget over three years, has been approved by the government, with Shosh Hertz as the director of the Health Ministry’s unit in charge of it.
A national council to assist the unit has been named, with Prof. Gil Saltzman at its head and 40 representatives of ministries, health funds, local authorities, academia, research and voluntary organizations included.
A suicide-prevention pilot program in 10 cities and regional councils has been launched, using trained professionals speaking several languages who locate groups and sectors at risk and try to help those contemplating suicide.
According to the Health Ministry report presented by German, suicide is the second- most common cause of death in male teens and young adults up to the age of 24 and the third-most common cause in men aged 25 and 44, as well as the third among teenage girls and women up to 24.
The report lists figures on suicide attempts as well as actual cases of suicide.
Suicide rates are low compared to those in 31 European countries. The rate among Israeli teenage girls and women up to the age of 24 is lower than women in the other EU countries but the rate among males is similar to those in Europe. The rate rises as people age, and more commit suicide over the age of 75 than up to the age of 45, the report said.
In 2011, a total of 121 of the suicides were immigrants aged 15; they constituted a third of all suicides in that year. Sixteen were immigrants from Ethiopia and 91 from the former Soviet Union. But immigrants who arrived from these countries before 1990 are much less likely to take the drastic step.
Among Israelis who are not new immigrants from these two countries, the suicide rate has dropped since 2005, especially among teenage boys and men up to the age of 24 and men and women older than 75.
Married people are less likely to kill themselves than those who are not married.
There are relatively higher suicide rates in the Haifa region and relatively lower ones in the Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria regions.
More than half of the men who killed themselves hanged or strangled themselves, 13 percent used guns or other weapons and 11% jumped from high places. Among women, 37% hanged or strangled themselves, 11% jumped; 9% took poison and 6% used weapons.
The use of weapons to take one’s life has been declining since 2000, especially in the 15 to 24 and 65+ age group. Among males aged 15 to 24, since 2006, hanging and strangling has been more common than weapons.
There were 6,159 suicide attempts in 2012 compared to 4,988 from seven years previous. Suicide attempts by women are 1.3 to 1.5 times higher than that of men. Teenagers are more likely to fail in their attempt at suicide than adults. Suicide attempts have occurred in children as young as 10.