Health minister Carolina Darias, presenting the 024 suicide attention hotline. / efe

Number of suicides in Spain reaches an all-time high

More than 4,000 people took their own lives in 2021, more than in the first year of the pandemic and confirming pessimistic forecasts by experts

ALFONSO TORICES MADRID.

The number of suicides in Spain reached an all-time high last year, according to figures just released by the National Institute of Statistics. More than 4,000 people took their own lives in 2021, which is an average of 11 every day and 62 more than twelve months earlier.

The figures confirmed warnings from doctors, psychiatrists and NGOs in the past two years, who said that more people were suffering from mental health problems due to the effects of the pandemic, the lockdowns, social restrictions and the economic crisis. They said they had noted an “epidemic” of suicidal tendencies in phone calls and personal appointments with patients and feared that the number of people who took their own lives was likely to increase.

More deaths from suicide than in traffic accidents

The official figures show that in 2021 there were 4,002 suicides in Spain, which was 1.6% higher than in 2020, which was already a year which broke all records in this respect.

The number of deaths from suicide increased by 464 in three years and has been the main cause of death from ‘external sources’. Since 2008, the number of suicides each year has been higher than the number of deaths from traffic accidents.

Experts say more men commit suicide than women, accounting for 75% of deaths from this cause in Spain each year, although in 2020 the number of women who took their own lives increased considerably, reaching 1,021.

The Ministry of Health is so concerned about the situation that seven months ago it set up a hotline, the free telephone number 024 which is operative 24 hours a day to help anyone with suicidal feelings. In the first six months it received 50,000 calls, and managed to prevent around 800 people taking their own lives.

HELPLINES

Telephone 024: the Spanish government's free 24-hour 365-day helpline run by the Red Cross. Real time telephone interpreting service for non-Spanish speakers.

Samaritans in Spain: Free helpline in English for anyone feeling desperate, anxious or alone: Freephone 900 525 100 between 10am and 10pm or email pat@samaritansinspain.com. www.samaritansinspain.com

Anar: Helpline and chat for children and teens (Spanish). 900 202 010 www.anar.org