The effect of national suicide prevention programs on suicide rates in 21 OECD nations

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Nov;73(9):1395-400. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.08.022. Epub 2011 Sep 12.


Suicide has become a serious and growing public health problem in many countries. To address the problem of suicide, some countries have developed comprehensive suicide prevention programs as a collective political effort. However, no prior research has offered a systematic test of their effectiveness using cross-national data. This paper evaluates whether the national suicide prevention programs in twenty-one OECD nations had the anticipated effect of reducing suicide rates. By analyzing data between 1980 and 2004 with a fixed-effect estimator, we test whether there is a statistically meaningful difference in the suicide rates before and after the implementation of national suicide prevention programs. Our panel data analysis shows that the overall suicide rates decreased after nationwide suicide prevention programs were introduced. These government-led suicide prevention programs are most effective in preventing suicides among the elderly and young populations. By contrast, the suicide rates of working-age groups, regardless of gender, do not seem to respond to the introduction of national prevention programs. Our findings suggest that the presence of a national strategy can be effective in reducing suicide rates.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Developed Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / trends*
  • Young Adult