Suicides and Suicidal Behaviours in 21st Century in Latvia


Riga Stradins University, Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, Riga, Latvia

The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia, Department of Health Promotion, Riga, Latvia

Riga Stradins University, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Riga, Latvia


Suicides and suicides attempts continuously are one of the main public health problems in the World. Latvia is one of the countries in Europe with historically high and fluctuating suicide rates. Although, over the last 2 decades we observed steadily decrease in completed suicides, Latvia is still ranking in the top 5 in Europe with 19.2 suicides per 100 000 population and 5 times higher prevalence in males (2014). Middle aged males have highest suicide rates, more than 80 % of suicides are done by hanging and certain regional differences in suicide rates exist.

Two repeated population based studies found nearly threefold decrease of the last year prevalence of any type of suicidal behaviour over the decade (from 52.6% to 18.5%), however the risk factors mostly remained the same – middle age, non-cohabitation status and lower level of education were significant risk factors for serious types of suicidal behaviour (suicidal ideation, suicidal plans, suicide attempts) among men.

Data from State Emergency Medical Service show that 1468 persons in 2015 were hospitalised due to suicide attempts, in 38.6 % with poisoning. A unique pattern have been observed, with males aged 20-39 having more suicide attempts, than women.

The National Research Programme BIOMEDICINE 2014-2017 found that 10.2% of patients attending his General practitioner (GP) for medical reasons are affected by current and 28.1 % by life-time depression. 4.1 % of GP’s patients had lifetime suicide attempts, with life-time depressed patients having odds of 4.1 for suicide attempts (p<0.000). Current and lifetime depression in this population increases odds of having moderate/high risk for suicidal behaviours 15.7 and 29.6 times correspondingly (p<0.000).

Although, we have gathered broad range of the data related to suicidal behaviours in Latvia, we are still missing unified and synchronised suicide prevention programme on the national level.