Suicide rates down, but emergency rooms in high demand

The suicide rate continues to decline in Quebec, for both men and women. However, the hospitalization rates of young girls aged 10 to 14 in Quebec in general give rise to new concerns, while the portrait in Nunavik is still troubling.

In “Suicidal behavior in Quebec: portrait 2023”, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec also reports that the suicide rate remains three times higher among men than among women. It is highest among men aged 50 to 64.

In 2020, 1,055 people took their own lives (and 1,008 in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Coroner’s Office).

Compared to older age groups, teenage boys and girls aged 15 to 19 and young adults (20 to 34 years old) in Quebec use emergency departments more often for a suicide attempt or suicidal ideation, compared to older age groups.

Among young girls aged 10 to 14, a particularly significant increase in the rate of hospitalizations for attempted suicide is recorded. This rate has more than doubled in 10 years, gradually increasing from 25.5 per 100,000 people in 2008 to rise to 74.9 per 100,000 people in 2016, and then down to 60.2 per 100,000 people in 2019. 2021, the phenomenon is even more worrying since this rate has increased further to reach 118.4 per 100,000 people.

Based on studies, the authors of the paper hypothesize that “the use of social media could decrease face-to-face communication, lead to an overreliance on being ‘liked’ for social validation and thus negatively affect mental health, especially among young girls.

“On the other hand, it is also possible that young girls are more open to seeking help when necessary, that they are well supported by their loved ones and taken to the emergency room more quickly when a suicidal crisis arises. In this context, it is essential to continue to promote and even improve the search for help so that other groups in need can be taken care of during similar events. For example, in middle-aged men, seeking help should be seen as a strong, positive and socially accepted action and not as a sign of weakness. »

(The paper does not discuss the possibility that rising ER visits may be linked to difficulties in recent years getting an appointment with a psychologist, which may bring more people to the ER.)

The National Institute of Public Health summarizes it as follows: “Certainly, suicides are more frequent among men, but it is among women and especially among young girls that other suicidal behaviors most often manifest themselves. »

By region, the suicide rate in Nunavik remains enormous (175.6 per 100,000 people, compared to 12.9 per 1,000,000 people for all of Quebec). On the other hand, the suicide rate in the Cree communities – where poverty is less rampant since the James Bay Agreement – ​​is similar to what is observed in Chaudière-Appalaches or the Bas-Saint-Laurent.

In general, what effect has the pandemic had? We see that in 2020, the rate of emergency room visits for suicidal ideation has decreased (particularly among girls aged 15 to 19), then rebounding in 2021 and falling again in 2022.

“It is possible, we can read, that the prevention activities implemented have succeeded in further reducing the suicide rate in Quebec, despite the crisis. »

Need help ?

If you need support, if you are having suicidal thoughts or if you are worried about someone close to you, contact 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553). A suicide prevention worker is available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also consult the site

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