A report published by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday revealed that there has been a marked reduction in the number of suicides in Israel. The report covers suicides committed in the country between 1981 and 2013 and attempted suicides between 2004 to 2014. In 2011, there were 482 reported incidents; in 2012, 435; in 2013, 372.
In general, the suicide rate in Israel is low compared to that of other countries, with the Jewish State ranked second lowest compared to 28 European countries.
The report further revealed that suicide is the second leading cause of death in males aged 15 to 24, and the third for females of the same age group and males from 25 to 44. In the last decade, the suicide rate reduced by half in males from 15 to 24 and in females aged 65 to 74.
Immigrants commit more suicide than locally born Israelis
The rate of suicides by immigrants (olim) is higher than those born in Israel. The suicide rate of Ethiopian olim dropped by half during the 2000s, but their suicide rate is still relatively high. Contrarily, however, the rate of Ethiopian attempts at suicide is lower than that of those born in Israel, with the exception of the 25–44 age bracket, where the Ethiopian rate of attempted suicide is 1.2 times higher.
The rate of attempted suicide by young immigrants from the former USSR is 2.9 times higher than those born in Israel in the 10–14 age bracket and 1.6 times higher in the 15–24 age bracket. However, from 45 and older, their rate is low.
The report also addresses the breadth of populations in Israel: the suicide rate of Arabs is lower than that of Jews. Nearly a third of all suicides are olim.
Where in Israel do people commit suicide more?
The suicide rate in Israel, corrected for age, was higher than the national average between 2011 and 2013 in the areas around Hadera, Ashkelon, Jezreel Valley, Tel Aviv, Rehovot, and Haifa.
In the last decade, an average of approximately 5,500 suicide attempts was recorded in hospital emergency rooms. About half of the attempts were committed by Israelis under 25 years of age.
The peak of attempted suicides was 19 years old; up to age 18, the rate for girls was higher than for boys, and from 37, there was no significant difference based on gender.
Recently, the IDF chief of staff decided to permit combat soldiers to take their weapons home with them. According to this report, this decision was justified, as the rate of suicide by firearms of any type has been declining since the mid-2000s.
The chairman of the non-profit Path to Life, Dr. Avshalom Aderet, said in response, "The sad truth revealed by the report is that every day, more than one person commits suicide on average: hundreds of souls, most of which could be saved. There are ways to do this, but they require the recognition that this is a national calamity, that this can and must be dealt with."
Aderet remarked, "The most worrying datum is the high number of suicide attempts and suicides by young people." He opined that the trend was to be fought by providing information and engaging in a dialogue with at-risk youths.
He continued, "The fact that the budget for the national program for suicide prevention is predicted to run out by the end of this year after a mere three years of operations is upsetting and worrying. The Israeli government and Ministry of Health must continue funding this program on a permanent basis, because only methodical and clear work over years can help to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts and prevent pain for thousands of friends and loved ones."
Speaking for his organization, Aderet stated, "We call on the minister of health, Yakov Litzman, to address the worrying data in this report and to continue to fund the program in the coming years and to thereby guarantee the continuation of ways of dealing with the phenomenon of suicide."