Intended for healthcare professionals

  1. Ellicott C Matthay, postdoctoral scholar
  1. University of California, San Francisco, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Box 0560, 550 16th Street, 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
  1. Correspondence to: ellicott.matthay{at}

Overall trends hide extreme heterogeneity across and within countries

National and international agencies seeking to reduce suicide need timely and accurate mortality data to set targets, benchmark progress, and identify those in need of intervention. Countries, however, vary in the quality of data sources and analytical methods used to produce cause-specific mortality estimates, if they produce them at all. The Global Burden of Disease Study addresses these concerns by generating comparable estimates of death, disability, and injury by using uniform metrics across countries and time. Investigators draw data from all available sources on the frequency of health conditions, make corrections for known biases, and incorporate estimates into a sophisticated modelling framework that draws information across space and time in areas where data are weak or nonexistent.1

In a linked article, Naghavi and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.l94) analysed findings from the 2016 iteration of the Global Burden of Disease Study and identified remarkable changes in suicide rates worldwide.2 They describe patterns of suicide mortality and years of life lost globally, regionally, and for 195 countries and …

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