Background and aim: The Nordic countries provide a suitable setting for comparing trends in suicide mortality. The aim of this report is to compare suicide trends by age, gender, region and methods in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden 1980-2009.
Methods: Suicide statistics 1980-2009 were analyzed for men and women aged 15 years and above and the age group 15-24 years. Regional suicide rates in 2009 were presented in maps.
Results: The suicide rates across the Nordic countries declined from 25-50 per 100,000 in 1980 to 20-36 in 2009 for men and from 9-26 in 1980 to 8-11 in 2009 for women. The rates in Finland were consistently higher than those of the other countries. A significant increase of suicides in young women in Finland and Norway and a lack of a decline among young women in Sweden were noted. The male- female ratio of suicide converged to approximately 3:1 across the region during the study period. Rural areas in Finland, Norway and Sweden saw the highest suicide rates, whereas the rates in the capital regions of Denmark, Norway and Sweden were lower than the respective national rates.
Conclusions: We hold that the overall decline of suicide rates in the Nordic countries reflects the socio-economic development and stability of the region, including the well-functioning healthcare. The increasing rates in Finland and Norway and the unchanged rate in Sweden of suicide in young women are an alarming trend break that calls for continued monitoring.