Each year, more than 2,000 Belgians commit suicide. However, the statistics are slightly different in the north and south of the country since the Walloon population is twice as numerous as the Flemish population. Moreover, with a suicide rate of 19 per 100,000 inhabitants, Belgium places well above the world average of 14.5 per 100,000. Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. In the report, published on September 4th, the World Health Organization reported that more than 800,000 suicides occur around the world every year.
In Belgium, the number of suicides remained at approximately 2,000 per year until 2008, which are the latest figures from the Walloon Health Observatory and the Centre for Suicide Prevention. Experts estimate that the number of suicide attempts is 20 times higher than the actual number of suicides. Although the numbers remain stable, the number of suicides is still alarming and is the leading cause of death among Belgians between the ages of 25 and 44 and the second leading cause, after motor vehicle accidents, for people between the ages of 15 and 24. In addition, the Prevention Center believes these figures are being underestimated. “All suicides are not listed,” said Valerie Denis from the Centre. This is the case for some voluntary motor accidents for example, but also family choices, “relatives sometimes prefer not to formalize the cause of death,” she says. To assist and provide a listening ear to people in need, the Center offers a free 24 hour hotline accessible by dialing 0800 32 123. In 2012, trained volunteers, supervised by psychologists, received nearly 20,000 calls in 2012.