Suicide in Greenland
Suicide is a serious problem in Greenland. According to the government of Greenland, one person in five has attempted suicide. Because of this, the Greenland government has taken a number of steps to reduce the suicide rate. One example is roadside posters.
The number of suicides in Greenland began to rise in the 1970s. Before that it had been very low. It kept getting higher until 1986. In 1986, suicide was the leading cause of death in several towns, such as Sarfannguit. Before 1970, the rate of suicide in Greenland had been very low. But by 1994, it had become one of the highest in the world. The rate was 107 per 100,000 persons committing suicide per year. Government data in 2010 suggested that almost one suicide occurred a week.
An article was published in the journal BMC Psychiatry in 2009. It reported that 1351 suicides took place in Greenland during the 35 years (1968–2002). The study noted seasonal changes in the suicide rate. Suicides were higher in June and lower in the winter months. Suicide rates in northern parts of West Greenland are higher than in southern parts. Suicide rates are higher for men than women. Most of the people committing suicide are young men between the ages of 15-24. Unlike in other Western countries, the suicide rate in Greenland goes down with age.
Several reasons are blamed for Greenland's high rate of suicide. These including alcoholism, depression, poverty, poor relationships with partners and dysfunctional parental homes. The higher summer suicide rate is blamed on insomnia caused by longer periods of daylight.
The increase in suicide rates started about the time television appeared in Greenland. But it may be more the "modernization package" in general that is causing the problem. Culture clash between the traditional culture and modern Western culture is also assumed to be a factor.
Greenland's Government and other organizations have made a number of efforts to prevent suicides. There are different associations that provide support for people that feel suicidal. Measures include posters placed along the roads, which read: "The call is free. No one is alone. Don't be alone with your dark thoughts. Call." Suicide consultants are used to show movies discouraging teenage suicide attempts.
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- Markus J. Leineweber. "Modernization and Mental Health: Suicide among the Inuit in Greenland". Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- "Greenland's Constant Summer Sunlight Linked To Summer Suicide Spike". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Federico Sanchez, Suicide Explained: A Neuropsychological Approach (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp, 2007), p. 76
- Peter Bjerregaarda; Inge Lyngea, 'Suicide—A Challenge in Modern Greenland', Archives of Suicide Research Vol. 10, Issue 2 (2006), p. 209
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