• Italiano

Istat, the Italian National Institute of Statistics, published in the month of February, an in-depth analysis concerning the impact of the physical and mental diseases, on the numerous cases of suicide in Italy. This is the first study of this kind in our country, under examination there are 12.877 suicides occurring in the three-year period 2011-13.

Men most affected by this phenomenon

The numerical data is already impressive, since the 12.877 deaths, of which 2.812 women (21.8%) and 10.065 men (78,2%), distributed in 3 years, lead to a sad record: 4.292 every 365 days, that can be divided into almost 12 per month. Every 5 deaths, 4 involve men.

The study

The Istat precise “Objective of the study is to provide a quantitative measure of deaths for suicide with the presence of a serious disease. The informational source of the analysis is represented by the certifications of death annually collected by ISTAT.
The results register, in a not negligible part of cases, a bad physical or psychic status that might have influenced the choice of committing suicide; however, the connections found cannot be tout-court interpreted as a direct measure of the causal relationship between the presence of the disease and the act of suicide”.

The causes

The source from which the Institute collects the data changed and, referring to the certification of death issued by doctors, instead of those provided by the public security forces, it is possible get much more reliable statistic, even as regards to the causes. Although the medical certificate must be produced in a short time (not more than 24 hours from the death), in many cases it is possible to understand what are the different underlying causes of this serious gesture.

Of all the cases in question, 81% (10.476 deaths) took place without the presence of serious diseases while 13% (1.662) is connected to mental illness and the 6% (737) to physical diseases. Among these 737 deaths, 288 had the sad fate of also being accompanied by mental pathologies. A further deepening shows how, among mental diseases, depression is preponderant. Another data that leaves astonished is the one referring to those who commit suicide in relation to physical illnesses: the 30% of them, in fact, commit the gesture inside health institutes. The Istat detects “The frequency of serious disease status is higher with the increase in age and in women (the proportion of suicide with illness associated is 27% in women and 16% in men)”.


At the geographical level, the North and the Centre of Italy are the most affected by the coexistence of mental and physical diseases. In particular, North-east is more involved, for physical illnesses, in the age group of 65 years and over; the Centre is more subject, in the age group 35-64 years for the mental pathologies.


With regard to the modalities, mental unease leads to hanging, strangulation, suffocation or drowning, all conditions directed to trauma asphyxiation. In the case of physical problems, people resort to self-poisoning and to the use of firearms and sharp objects.

Death in the house

The data concerning the context in which people commit suicide is surprising; in that case, the domestic environment ceases to be the place of refuge and security. Slightly more than half of suicides happens at home (57% if associated with a mental illness).

The reflection

The plague of suicide is worrying and, according to the statistics, much more present than what we think. An extensive study is therefore needed, without any preconceived ideas, so that we can prevent the insane gesture. The subsequent surveys are ancillary the preventive ones and must constitute a connecting link, to explain the phenomenon with the will to solve it.

Analysis like the one carried out by Istat must contribute to understand what is behind and around an individual at risk. It is, it must be reaffirmed, a very important turning point with respect to the past: the datum is no longer considered as a cold number (often underestimated) but as a real expression of the physical and mental discomfort that causes it.

The unwholesome “domestic” dimension of suicide is another disturbing and emblematic aspect that invites us to a deep reflection and to put into play the alleged cornerstones of our sociability, so controversial and little reassuring. People choose to die in silence, in the discretion of the walls of the house or of those of a health institute.

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