Trends in suicide mortality in South Africa, 1997 to 2016

Tahira Kootbodien, Nisha Naicker, Kerry S. Wilson, Raj Ramesar, Leslie London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Suicide rates worldwide are declining; however, less is known about the patterns and trends in mortality from suicide in sub-Saharan Africa. This study evaluates trends in suicide rates and years of potential life lost from death registration data in South Africa from 1997 to 2016. Suicide (X60–X84 and Y87) was coded using the 10th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Changes in mortality rate trends were analysed using joinpoint regression analysis. The 20-year study examines 8573 suicides in South Africa, comprising 0.1% of all deaths involving persons 15 years and older. Rates of suicide per 100,000 population were 2.07 in men and 0.49 in women. Joinpoint regression analyses showed that, while the overall mortality rate for male suicides remained stable, mortality rates due to hanging and poisoning increased by 3.9% and 3.5% per year, respectively. Female suicide mortality rates increased by 12.6% from 1997 to 2004 before stabilising; while rates due to hanging increased by 3.0% per year. The average annual YPLL due to suicide was 9559 in men and 2612 in women. The results show that suicide contributes substantially to premature death and demonstrates the need for targeted interventions, especially among young men in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1850
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Joinpoint regression analysis
  • Suicide mortality
  • Suicide rates
  • Trends
  • Years of potential life lost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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