Toronto Star

Nov. 29, 02:13 EDT

Middle-aged men most likely to commit suicide, study says

Phinjo Gombu
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star

Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable injury-related deaths in Ontario, especially among middle-aged men, says a new study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The survey looked at data collected from Ontario's chief coroner's office between 1998-1999 and shows that almost 80 per cent of the 1,012 deaths attributed to suicide and self-injuries involved men, whose average age was 44 years old.

The average age for women was 45 years old.

"I think it is preventable in many cases," Dr. Issac Sakinovsky, a psychiatrist with the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

He said the study emphasizes the need for people hit by adversity and mental illness to immediately get treatment. "There are many cases of depression that never get to see a doctor."

Sakinovsky pointed to the a recent English study that showed almost 25 per cent of people who committed suicide had never seen a health care worker.

"That's the age when people bear the brunt of adverse circumstances that hit the family," said Sakinovsky.

"It's the middle-age people, the parents, the divorced spouses which life hits the hardest."

Sakinovsky said one of the most alarming findings of the annual study, which has collected 10 years of data, is that suicide rates declined only 3 per cent compared to a 21 per cent drop in most injury-related deaths, such as car accidents.

He said government and society just aren't doing enough to tackle the problem, which remains a social taboo.

"Government has a duty to make mental health care accessible and they should apply the same ingenuity they apply to preventing motor vehicle accidents."

Other findings include:

  • Falling down continues to be the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Ontario accounting for 28 per cent of the total, or 753 people. The vast majority who die from falling are seniors.

  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among youths under the age 20. In 1998-1999, at least 88 teens died from motor vehicle accidents.

  • Most men committed suicide by hanging followed by the use of firearms while most women committed suicide using drugs and alcohol followed by hanging.

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