The Iraqi national study of suicide: Report on suicide data in Iraq in 2015 and 2016

J Affect Disord. 2018 Mar 15;229:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.037. Epub 2017 Dec 27.


Background: Very little is known regarding the epidemiology of suicides in Iraq, given the lack of a national surveillance system. Therefore, the government initiated this project "The Iraqi National Study of Suicide METHODS: The study covered 13 (out of 18) provinces in Iraq. A data collection form was designed by the researchers. The forms were completed by police stations in the 13 provinces. Data were extracted from the legal investigation (which include police investigation, family reports and postmortem reports) of cases of when there was no clear cause of death and where there was final verdict of suicide made by judge after examining these reports.

Results: There were 647 cases of suicide. The crude rate of suicide per 100 000 population was 1.09 (1.21 for males, 0.97 for females) in 2015 and 1.31 (1.54 for males and 1.07 for females) in 2016. The majority of cases (67.9%) were aged 29 years or below. The most common method was hanging (41%) followed by firearms (31.4%) and self-burning (19.2%). 24.1% of cases were reported to have psychiatric disorders, of which the most common diagnosis was depression (53.9%). In the majority of cases (82.1%) there were no previous attempts. Only a small minority were reported to have had psychological trauma (15.5%), financial problems (12.4%) or childhood abuse (2.2%).

Limitations: The study covered only 13 provinces in Iraq. We were able to calculate age-standardized rates for year 2016 only. Data are based on official police records and under-reporting and under-recognition of psychiatric disorders are possible.

Conclusion: On the basis of data available to this study, the suicide rate in Iraq is lower than the global rate. Suicide is more common in young people, where the gender distribution is almost equal. Social and cultural factors might have played a role in these patterns. The findings underscore the need of a national registry with a comprehensive and multipronged surveillance approach to correctly identify suicide events. This study aims to be the first step in this process.

Keywords: Iraq; Suicide; Suicide rate; Suicide register.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Trauma / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult