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Number of deaths by suicide down in B.C., but it's unclear why: Coroners Service

Last Updated Jul 17, 2019 at 12:51 pm PDT

(Source: gov.bc.ca)

In 2017, 572 people died by suicide, compared to more than 600 each of the three previous years

It's the lowest count since 2014, but the BC Coroners Service says it's not clear why

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province is recording fewer deaths by suicide. Updated numbers from the BC Coroners Service show the numbers are trending down for the first time in nearly five years.

In 2017, 572 people died by suicide, compared to more than 600 each of the three previous years. Andy Watson with the BC Coroners Service can’t explain why numbers have dropped, but says the information is still useful.

“By providing this data to partners and to health authorities and to the folks on the front line dealing with those in crisis, at least we’re able to identify some of the trends on who’s dying and how they’re dying. Hanging is the leading cause of suicide death, followed by firearm use and poisoning.”

It’s the lowest count since 2014, but Watson says it’s not clear why.

“By monitoring these trends and sharing them in real time, it helps partners to be able to understand what’s happening out there. And maybe by pinpointing the means of suicide there are ways we can prevent deaths in similar circumstances,” he says.

The downward trend is even more pronounced in the Lower Mainland.

“Both the Fraser and the Vancouver Coastal Health regions’ are lower. We’re looking at between nine and 11 deaths per 100,000 in those two health authorities, so lower than the provincial average.”

Men between 30 and 59-years-old accounted for more than half the deaths by suicide recorded two years ago, and almost four per cent were people under the age of 18.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, there is help. The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counsellors can be reached at 1-800-784-2433.