Suicide statistics: figures and background
„I didn’t know that“
Why numbers, data and facts are so important
Suicidality is not a nice topic. Dealing with the facts surrounding suicidal acts can be stressful and upsetting. But the data also shows the huge need for action.
We want to provide you with information that is backed up by accurate figures. This is important because these figures show how present the whole issue is in our everyday lives.
So the main thing is to raise awareness of the issue. Because there are far too many people who feel lonely and lost. Who do not see themselves as part of a group. Who cannot cope with their negative feelings alone. Who want to take their own life. And who, unfortunately, too often put this plan into action.
If you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, think carefully about whether you want to enter the world of statistics and facts and whether this is good for you. You will find both information and offers of help on the other pages of this website.
You are welcome to use the information on this page for papers or homework. In addition, we have listed some more links and sources at the bottom of this page that provide you with even more detailed information and statistics on the topic of suicidality. Good luck with your research!
Suicides in Germany and Berlin
Comparison of suicide with other causes of death
A total of 9215 people died by suicide in Germany in 2021. In comparison: in the same period, 2562 people died from traffic accidents, 1826 from illegal drugs and 275 from homicide. Thus, almost twice as many people died from suicide in 2021 as from traffic accidents, illegal drugs and homicide combined.
Suicide development in the last 20 years (in Berlin and Germany)
In order to be able to better compare suicide figures between different years as well as between groups or areas of different sizes, the suicide rate rather than the absolute number of suicides is often used as a statistical indicator. The suicide rate indicates how many suicides there were per 100,000 inhabitants.
In 2021, this suicide rate was 11.1 in Germany and 11.8 in Berlin. In 2021, Saxony was the federal state with the highest suicide rate (16.1 per 100,000 inhabitants) and North Rhine-Westphalia was the federal state with the lowest suicide rate (7.4 per 100,000 inhabitants) in Germany. Suicide rates in Germany have fallen in recent years. For example, 20 years earlier in 2001, suicide rates were 13.5 in Germany and 13.0 in Berlin.
The Berlin Suicide Prevention Unit and the Suicide Prevention Network Berlin are committed to the goal of the World Health Organisation and the Sustainable Development Goals and are working to continue to reduce suicide rates and to reduce them by 30% by 2030.
Suicides by gender and age group (in Berlin and Germany)
The suicide rate differs not only between federal states, but also: For both men and women. In 2021, the suicide rate in Germany was 16.6 per 100,000 inhabitants for men and 5.7 per 100,000 inhabitants for women. Of all people who took their own lives in Germany in 2021, 73.8% were men. In Berlin, 70% of all suicides were carried out by men. Although more men than women take their own lives, suicide attempts are more frequently made by women.
Suicide numbers and rates also differ between age groups. Suicide rates increase with age: Both men and women. In 2021, over 50% of all suicides in Germany were committed by men over 50. Among children, adolescents and young adults aged 1 to 29, suicide was the second most common cause of death in Germany in 2021 after accidents – in Berlin it was even the most common.
Calls to telephone hotlines with acute suicidal thoughts
At the moment, there are no complete data on how many people call telephone hotlines or other support services with suicidal thoughts. However, the evaluation of calls to the Berlin Crisis Service can serve as an indication. About 8 per cent of all people seeking advice there have their own suicidal thoughts, suicide plans or after a suicide. In addition, many relatives, such as friends, family members, acquaintances, neighbours or other caregivers seek support from the Berlin Crisis Service.
Choice of suicide methods
Since this website is also explicitly aimed at those affected by suicidal thoughts, we have decided at this point not to talk about concrete suicide methods and their frequency. This information is not helpful in a concrete crisis situation.
Those who nevertheless need the data on concrete methods for papers, homework or other concerns will find further information and links to data and statistics at the bottom of this page.
- Todesursachenstatistik, Statistisches Bundesamt, Zweigstelle Bonn Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes, Statistisches Bundesamt
- Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg AIV – j / 21
“Suicide without pain” – every day people search for this term on the internet. Out of desperation, powerlessness and helplessness. But the romanticised portrayal of a peaceful, gentle suicide is a myth.
A safe suicide with medication, as it is so often portrayed in films and on television? There is no such thing.
Because every method carries the risk of failure. Often with serious and lasting consequences for one’s own health.
Press and media guide
Learning about suicidality in the media is important because there is still a lot of silence about the topic among the general population. However, not all reporting is the same and the way suicidality is reported has an effect not only on how suicidality is perceived in the population, but actually on how many suicides there are in the period following the report.
Two effects are distinguished that have an influence on suicide figures: The Werther and the Papageno effect. You can find out how you as a media professional can avoid the Werther effect and promote the Papageno effect on the website of the National Suicide Prevention Programme (NaSPro): https://www.suizidpraevention.de/medienportal
The Werther Effect
The term Werther effect goes back to the epistolary novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, published in 1774, in which the young protagonist, unhappily in love, commits suicide. The novel became a European bestseller and led to a real wave of suicides among young men. In 1974, the term was adopted by academia to describe the connection between media coverage of suicides and a subsequent rise in suicide rates.
The Papageno Effect
The Papageno effect is much less well known to the public and describes the opposite situation. Namely, that a positive media portrayal of survived suicidal crises also leads to a reduction in suicidal acts. The name refers to the character of Papageno from the opera “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He manages to overcome his suicidal thoughts through the help of others and does not put them into action.
We hope that we have been able to impart some knowledge to you. But of course there is much more relevant information.
Below you will find a selection of media that deal with the topic of suicidality. It is not necessary to have read every book, seen every film or listened to every podcast. We are happy about every person who is learning about suicidality and wants to understand this topic in order to support themselves or others, because by doing so you are actively contributing to the fact that we as a society are moving closer together and together are getting closer to the goal of further reducing the suicide rate.
And for this contribution, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.