In a parliamentary question to Minister of Health, Etienne Schneider, CSV MP Françoise Hetto-Gaasch queried whether the number of suicides and attempted suicides had risen in recent years in Luxembourg.
Schneider responded that the authorities were unable to note that the issue of suicide had risen in Luxembourg. Instead, statistics suggest the trend had dropped.
The last available statistics are from 2016 and reveal that 45 individuals killed themselves three years ago. In these 45 cases, the authorities were clearly able to confirm the cause of death was suicide. In a further 16 cases, the cause of death may have been suicide.
Compared to the prior year, the statistics reveal that suicide has become a decreasing phenomenon: in 2015, between 64 and 90 individuals took their own lives.
However, Dr Fränz D'Onghia from the suicide prevention line cautioned against conclusively claiming the tendency has dropped. As Dr D'Onghia explained, the statistics for 2016 are certainly promising, but only reveal as much about the year itself.
He went on to say that Luxembourg experiences fluctuations in terms of suicide statistics and the authorities must wait for statistics from 2017 and 2018 before reaching any conclusions. Once those statistics are published, and if they reveal a lower tendency, then the country can conclude that suicide is decreasing.
Hetto-Gaasch's parliamentary question also queried the frequency of suicide depending on generations. The minister responded that the fluctuations amongst young people are too large for the authorities to conclusively discuss any tendencies.
In 2016, two individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 committed suicides. In the two years before, seven young people killed themselves each year.
Dr D'Onghia echoed the minister's sentiment, claiming that suicide is not frequent amongst people aged 25 and under. Instead, the demographic with the highest number of suicides is the group of people aged 75 and above.
Statistics from the years 2000 to 2016 reveal that the risk of suicide is five to six times higher amongst seniors than amongst young people under the age of 20.
There are 32 suicides per 100,000 residents in the senior demographic, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the demographic of 15 to 19 year olds.
However, suicide and suicidal thoughts remain an issue amongst young people. As Dr D'Onghia explains, even if younger people do not commit suicide, they can still be suicide. Further to that, many younger people do attempt to commit suicide.
In 2015, the LIGUE (Ligue Luxembourgeoise d’Hygiène Mentale - Luxembourgish League for Mental Health) launched a new national suicide prevention plan, which consisted of 33 activities, including first aid courses for mental health issues and guidance to talk individuals out of attempting suicide. With an emphasis on prevention, the LIGUE has also organised sessions and guides for schools, to explain how to deal with the topic.
The plan was approved by the government council in July 2015, but according to Dr D'Onghia, without the statistics from more recent years, it is difficult to conclude the success rate of the plan.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or know anybody struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can access help by contacting Prévention Suicide, SOS Détresse (45 45 45), or the Children and Youth phone line (116 111).