Suicide prevention in Italy

Marco Sarchiapone

in Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198570059
Published online July 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199640461 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Suicide prevention in Italy

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National statistics on suicide deaths in Italy have been collected systematically from 1950 to 2003, which shows that the overall suicide rate has increased from 6 to 7 suicides per 100,000, with a slight gender imbalance, i.e. the female rate has decreased instead. In 2004, 3265 persons died due to suicide in Italy (Preti and Cascio 2006; ISTAT 2008).

According to the most recent available data, in Italy, the age and gender group with the highest rates of completed suicides are males aged 18–64. Completed suicides appear to be associated primarily to psychiatric disorders, and secondarily to physical illness; while if controlling for marital status, unmarried individuals carry higher rates of suicide (De Risio and Sarchiapone 2002).

Evidence from worldwide experience shows that national government plans often result in effective suicide prevention. Nevertheless, national prevention strategies have not been developed in Italy, and suicide prevention is delegated to nongovernmental organizations, such as private agencies or associations, psychiatric associations and universities. Therefore, to date several initiatives which address specific topics in suicide prevention exist, albeit they may not attain the comprehensiveness of a national prevention strategy.

Reasons for failed governmental support to suicide prevention may be the seemingly low suicide statistics compared to other European countries, but also the moral stigma of suicide that has been often associated with strong Catholic beliefs, reinforced in Italy by the presence of the Holy See within the State Capitol.

Chapter.  1125 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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