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Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

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07:32 CEST+02:00
Last year 1,600 people in Sweden took their own lives - and for Swedes aged 15 to 24, the numbers haven't been so high since 1989.

Statistics for 2013 from Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) found that the number of suicides had increased for the second year in a row. In 2011 there were 1,378 suicides in Sweden.

The largest increase was found in people aged between 15 and 24 years old, with 176 people in the age group committing suicide in 2013. The numbers have not been that high since 1989, when 205 people in the 15-24 age group took their own lives.

The total number of suicides in 2013, for all age groups together, was also higher than it has been since 1996, when 1,659 people commit suicide.

"It's a significant increase, and there are methods to prevent suicide but nothing is happening," Danuta Wasserman, professor of psychiatry at Karolinska Institute, told Sveriges Television (SVT), which requested the statistics. "There are of course cities and counties that try, but there is no systematic effort."

In June several experts proposed that Sweden's Public Health Agency (Folkhälsömyndigheten) create a specific department to deal with suicide.

Despite the increase, countries such as France, Australia, and Germany have higher suicide rates than Sweden, which comes in slightly higher than the US and Canada.

The long-perpetuated myth of Sweden's unusually high suicide rate is widely accepted to date back to the late 1950s and a speech given by the then US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, statistics based on an inaccurate briefing.

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Swedish suicide numbers decreased significantly during the 1980s and 1990s, levelling out during the 2000s. Numbers were once as high as 2,200 suicides per year, and by 2010 had dropped to 1,400.

In 2011, per every 100,000 people in Sweden, 17.5 commit suicide - the lowest rate since 1980. However, the general decrease in suicide rates has not affected the 15-24 age group.

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