Every year, more than 1200 people die by suicide in Sweden. A further 300 cases are registered as deaths of undetermined intent, of which many could have been suicide. Two thirds of those who die by suicide are men.
Suicide in Sweden
In the population aged 15 and over, the suicide rate (number of suicides per 100,000 inhabitants) in 2022 was 14. The highest suicide rate was among men who were 85 years or older (40 per 100,000 inhabitants). The lowest suicide rate was among women aged 15–29 (5 suicides per 100,000 inhabitants). Among children and young people (under the age of 18), there are approximately as many girls as boys who die by suicide. In 2022, ten children under the age of 15 died by suicide.
The suicide rate is calculated in relation to the size of the age groups in the population, so it differs from the actual number of suicides. For men, the number of suicides is lowest in the oldest age group (40 deaths) compared to the 45–64 age group, which has the highest number (300 deaths).
Looking at suicide in relation to the total number of deaths in each age group, presents yet another picture. Among young people (aged 15–29), who have a lower risk than older people of dying as a result of illness, suicide accounted for one third of all deaths. For people over the age of 65, suicide accounted for less than one percent of all deaths.
The suicide rate in Sweden also varies significantly in relation to educational status and geographic factors. Suicide rates are higher among those with only pre-secondary education for example. Suicide rates are also higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
Development over time
The suicide rate in Sweden was at its highest in the 1970’s and has since decreased. While in the last 20-year period, the suicide rate in Sweden has continued to decrease in most age groups, the decline has slowed. Among young people there has not been a decrease but rather a slight increase in suicide rates. At the same time, the differences in the suicide rates between different age groups has decreased over time.
In connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, many feared that the number of suicides would increase, but during the pandemic, fewer suicides were registered than the years before. Although the number of suicides has increased slightly since 2021, the figure is still lower than before the pandemic.
Figure 1. Number of suicides per 100,000 persons in Sweden, presented in different age groups, for the time period 1997–2022.
If you or someone you know is in acute need of psychiatric help, dial the SOS emergency number in Sweden, 112. In a non-emergency situation, you can call Sweden's national health hotline 1177 for information about illnesses and about where to find your nearest healthcare centre. For more information visit 1177.se.
There is also a suicide prevention hotline providing support for those who have suicidal thoughts or have a loved one with such thoughts. You reach them at 90101 or chat or email.