There were 233 suicides among young Canadians in 2008, accounting for 20.4% of all deaths for people aged 10–19 years. In comparison, suicides comprised 1.5% of all deaths in Canada during the same year. The suicide rate among Canadians aged 10–19 years showed a significant annual average decrease of 1.0% (95% CI −1.5 to −0.4) during the study period (1980–2008); however, stratification by age and sex showed significant variation. provides the numbers of suicides among 10–19 year olds, by sex and method, during the study period.
Numbers of suicides among Canadian children and adolescents (aged 10–19 years) for the period 1980–2008, by method and sex
In 2008, the suicide rate among children aged 10–14 years was 1.2 per 100 000 (n = 25, 64% male), accounting for 10% of all deaths in this age group, 88% of which were the result of suffocation (n = 22, 64% male). Among adolescents aged 15–19 years, the overall suicide rate in 2008 was 9.2 per 100 000 (n = 208, 67% male), accounting for 23% of all deaths, with suffocation also the primary means (73% of suicides in boys [n = 102] and 78% of suicides in girls [n = 53]).
We restricted further analyses to the primary methods of suicide — suffocation, firearms and poisoning. These methods accounted for almost 95% of suicides among people aged 10–19 years in 2008.
Suicide rates among boys aged 10–14 years showed no significant change during the 29-year period of the study (AAPC = −0.9% [95% CI −2.2 to 0.4]) (). The overall rate was 1.6 per 100 000 in 2008, and suffocation was the primary method (data not shown). None of the trends were statistically significant, with the exception of the decline in the use of firearms.
Suicides among Canadian children and adolescents, 1980–2008, by age group, sex and method. AAPC = average annual percent change, CI = confidence interval.
Suicide rates among male adolescents (aged 15–19 years) showed a general downward trend (), from 19.0 per 100 000 in 1980 to 12.1 per 100 000 in 2008 (AAPC = −2.0%, 95% CI −2.6 to −1.4). Suicides involving firearms began to decline in 1992, showing an average annual decrease of 6.7% (), whereas suicides by suffocation increased annually by an average of 1.8%. Suffocation overtook firearms as the leading method of suicide for this group in 1994 (). Poisonings also decreased to a rate of 0.8 per 100 000 in 2008 (data not shown).
Overall deaths by suicide among Canadian children and adolescents by sex and age group. Rates were standardized per 100 000 population* using the Canadian population in 1991. *Calculated using a 5-point central moving average.
Average suicide rate* by method, sex and age (yr)
Among girls aged 10–14 years, suicide rates increased sporadically from 0.6 per 100 000 in 1980 to 0.9 per 100 000 in 2008. shows the trend for this group. During the study period, deaths by suffocation increased (AAPC = 8.1%, 95% CI 6.0 to 10.4) (), whereas deaths by poisoning decreased by an average of 2.9% per year. No significant changes were seen for suicides involving firearms for this group during this period (data not shown).
Deaths by suicide (overall and by suffocation) among Canadian female children and adolescents. Rates were standardized per 100 000 population* using the Canadian population in 1991. *Calculated using a 5-point central moving average.
Among female adolescents (aged 15–19 years), suicide rates increased during the study period, from 3.7 per 100 000 to 6.2 per 100 000 (AAPC = 1.8%, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.5) (). Of note are the shifting patterns in the primary methods of suicide used by this group (). These patterns are similar to those seen in girls aged 10–14 years, with a steady average annual increase in suicides by suffocation of 8.0% (). Suicides involving firearms and poisoning both decreased significantly; use of firearms decreased by an average of 7.8% per year, and poisoning decreased by an average of 4.6% per year ().