Background: Suicide is one of the most important public health issues in both Japan and the United States. This study is to clarify the differences in methods of suicide between the two countries, among various races within the United States, and between genders and age-groups.
Methods: Vital statistics mortality data and the estimated population in 1999 in Japan and in the United States were used. Age-adjusted mortality rates were calculated using the age-specific total population of Japan and the United States as a standard population. In addition, the proportionate distribution of suicide methods was calculated.
Results: Age-adjusted mortality rates from suicide in Japan were about 2 times higher for males and 3 times higher for females compared with the United States. The most common method among both genders in Japan was hanging, followed by jumping from a high place. In the United States, it was firearms among both genders, followed by hanging among males and drugs among females. For Asians in the United States, hanging was the method of choice for about half among both genders; hanging was the most common method for the age group of 40 years or more among males and for all age groups among females. Firearms were the method of choice for the 20-39 age group among males.
Conclusions: Although the overall suicide rates among Asians in the United States were lower than Japan, the methods were similar to those in Japan.