BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The suicide price in Uruguay elevated as soon as once more final yr, reaching a brand new file and cementing the small nation’s place as an outlier within the area.
The South American nation’s suicide price reached 23.3 deaths per 100,000 folks in 2022, when the variety of deaths by suicide totaled 823, marking a rise from the earlier file of 21.6 that had been set in 2021, based on figures from Uruguay’s Well being Ministry launched this week.
“Suicide charges have been on the rise for the reason that Nineteen Nineties up till the current, with some minimal declines in just a few years,” stated Gonzalo Di Pascua, a psychologist who’s a member of the Coordinator of Psychologists of Uruguay and has studied suicide extensively. “The pandemic, very similar to in quite a few different areas of healthcare and psychological well being, primarily exacerbated a pre-existing pattern, which was the growing suicide price.”
Uruguay is by far an outlier within the Americas, the place the common suicide price was 9 per 100,000 folks in 2019, based on the most recent accessible numbers by the World Well being Group.
The excessive suicide price in Uruguay contrasts with the best way that the nation is usually seen as a paragon of financial stability within the southern cone. Uruguay enjoys the very best rating of all South American nations within the United Nations’ World Happiness Rating, coming in at 28, in comparison with 49 for Brazil and 52 for Argentina.
But the 2 Uruguay neighbors have far decrease suicide charges, with Argentina recording 8.4 per 100,000 folks in 2019 and Brazil, 6.9.
Eduardo Katz, who leads the psychological well being division at Uruguay’s State Well being Providers Administration, says a part of the disparity could also be due no less than partially to “underreporting in neighboring nations.” Though he admits that hardly tells the total story.
“One other essential issue is that there’s little adherence to faith in Uruguay” in comparison with neighboring nations, Katz stated, noting that the view of suicide as a sin “additionally creates a way of restraint and deterrence.”
Consultants additionally speculate that Uruguay’s small inhabitants – totaling some 3 million – makes it harder for people who find themselves dealing with psychological well being challenges to hunt out assist attributable to worry that they are going to be judged by members of their group.
“We’re few and everyone knows one another,” Katz stated.
There’s additionally a robust stigma towards asking for assist.
“Uruguay continues to have the unfairness that psychological well being companies are for the loopy,” Di Pascua stated. “There’s nonetheless lots of prejudice when it comes to speaking about psychological well being, and much more so after we speak about suicide.”
That’s much more pronounced in rural areas, which have the very best charges of suicide, and amongst males, who make up virtually eight-in-10 of whole suicides within the nation.
“A person is much less prone to converse out when he feels down as a result of he faces a social interdiction, a social prohibition as a result of false machismo that exists of claiming ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘I really feel dangerous’,” Katz stated. “It’s seen as a logo of weak point.”
Regardless of years of excessive suicide charges, Katz stated solely not too long ago has Uruguay began to alter its strategy to deal with the scourge.
The healthcare system has not prioritized “decreasing the demand, which means engaged on prevention,” Katz stated. “That is what we’re beginning to do now.”
Di Pascua, for his half, stated Uruguay has lengthy had a “very particular person concentrate on the one who carries out the try and never in an answer that’s extra community-oriented.”
Regardless of the latest change in focus, there’s little optimism that it’ll result in speedy modifications within the nation’s excessive charges of suicide.
“Clearly there’s no magic wand that may reverse such a pattern in a single day. This may take fairly a while,” Katz stated. “It’s very difficult to reverse a pattern, however I’ve religion that we’ll obtain it.”