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Suicide Rates in China, Selected European Countries, and the USA, 2008
  Male Female  

Note: Number of suicides per 100,000 of the population. * Selected rural and urban areas in China; ** Hong Kong SAR; In parenthesis: Year of most recent available statistics.

Source: World Health Organization, Most Recent Years Available. Data as of 2008. Downloaded on 23 February 2009 from WHO web site at:

The above figures were created with data published on the WHO web site in 2008. They show estimated suicide rates for selected rural and urban areas in China, Hong Kong, the United States of America and selected European countries.

Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation have, by far, the highest suicide rates worldwide. In Lithuania, suicide rates among males are almost 12 times higher than in Greece - 68.1 as compared to 5.9 per 100,000 of the population. Most of Eastern Europe has high male suicide rates. However, one can also find high suicide rates in Hungary and Finland.

China's male suicide rate of about 13 per 100,000 of the population is comparable to the suicide rates in the US, Spain, or the United Kingdom. But the female suicide rate is much higher. In fact, China may be the country with the highest suicide rate among females in the world.

China's high suicide rate among females has been the subject of several studies in recent years. According to this research, it is especially women in rural areas, who are committing suicide. Apparently, the fundamental political and economic transformation has partially eroded China's social fabric in rural areas. Labor migration, strict family planning laws, and the growing modernization gap between booming urban areas and remote rural hinterlands are contributing to the disruption of traditional family ties. These anomic tendencies are mirrored in growing divorce rates.


Elvin, Mark (1984): Female Virtue and the State in China. In: Past and Present, Vol. 104, 111-152.  (Famous article on female suicide out of chastity.)

Phillips, Michael R. / Li, Xianyun / Zhang, Yanping (2002): Suicide Rates in China, 1995-1999" In: Lancet, Vol. 359, March 9: 835-840.

Witke, Roxanne (1967): Mao Tse-tung, Women and Suicide. In: The China Quarterly, Vol. 31

Wu, Jane Jia-jing (1991): Suicides and suicide survivors of the Cultural Revolution.  In: Bushnell, P. Timothy, et al., eds. (1991): State organized terror: the case of violent internal repression  (Boulder, Colo.: Westview) 289-302

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This data section was updated on 18 December 2011

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. - 18 April 2012