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Nearly a Third of Young Women in Iceland Have Considered Suicide

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Nearly a Third of Young Women in Iceland Have Considered Suicide

Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík secondary school

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Nearly a third of Icelandic girls and a fourth of Icelandic boys aged 16 to 20 have considered suicide, RÚV reports. This finding was among those reported in a long-term study conducted on behalf of the Directorate of Health: “Suicidal Thoughts and Suicide Attempts Among Icelandic Young People: Findings of Upper Secondary Surveys, 2000-2016.”

The percentage of students who have considered suicide has not changed much since the surveys were initiated in 2000. That first year, 27% of girls aged 16-20 and 23% of boys of the same age reported having had suicidal thoughts. In 2016, the same percentage of boys reported affirmatively to this question (23%), as did a slightly higher percentage of girls, or 33%.

In terms of actual suicide attempts, the percentage remained fairly consistent for boys over the sixteen years of surveys—5% in 2000, increasing to 7% in 2016. Among young women, however, there’s been more volatility in this area. In 2000, 9% of women aged 16-20 reported that they’d attempted suicide, which increased to 11% in 2005. Five years later, in 2010, the percentage dropped to 7%, before going up again to 12% in 2016.

Around half of the young women and a third of the young men who participated in the surveys reported that someone close to them had told them about having attempted suicide. These percentages were consistent over the duration of the surveys.

The results of this study showed that upper secondary school students who have known someone who exhibits suicidal behavior are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and show suicidal behavior themselves. Students who had been told by a peer that the person had had suicidal thoughts were, in fact, twice as likely to seriously consider or attempt suicide themselves. Young people who had a close friend attempt suicide were two times as likely to seriously consider suicide and three times as likely to make an attempt on their own lives.

The most serious risk factors for attempting suicide were found to be as follows: having a close friend who had attempted suicide, depression, anger, being a victim of sexual violence, and cannabis use. Students who did not have much support from friends and/or family, or who had for some reason become cut off from their friends were also shown to be more likely to have suicidal thoughts or to attempt to kill themselves.

See the full results of the survey (in Icelandic) here.

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