Young Swedish women kill themselves more often

The suicide rate among young women in Sweden is at its highest level since the late 1970s. Researchers say the figures are a sign that young people's mental health is not taken seriously enough.

Preliminary statistics released on Thursday by the National Board of Health and Welfare show that the number of suicides among women aged 15-24 rose in both 2005 and 2006, Sveriges Radio reports. The figures had been relatively stable for most of the previous decade.

The number of suicides among women in this age group was about 8 per 100,000 in 2006, compared to about 3 per 100,000 in 2002.

Men are more likely to commit suicide, but the difference between men and women is narrowing. About 12 men per 100,000 in the 15-24 age group killed themselves in 2006, but this figure is much lower than during most of the 1970s and 1980s.

Suicides among people over 25 have almost halved in the past 20 years, with researchers crediting better treatment. The fall among men under 25 has been smaller; among women in that age group there has been no fall at all.

Professor Danuta Wasserman, an expert in suicide research at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, said young people’s mental health problems are not taken seriously enough.

“There is too little awareness that young people can be hit by psychiatric illness and that young people can suffer from major psychological and psycho-social problems,” she told Sveriges Radio.