Suicide prevention

Man with backpack in the woods.

Factors associated with self-destructive behaviour include those which increase the risk and others which are protective. Individual psychological features form the core around which social interaction with the people closest to the individual, and a wider range of social, community-based and cultural factors revolve.

Self-destructive behaviour manifests either indirectly as taking unhealthy risks or expressing a death wish, or directly as suicidal thoughts or sometimes as attempted suicides, some of which may be fatal. Self-destructive behaviour does not necessarily lead to suicide, and it is possible to interfere and prevent suicides on several occasions.

Suicide rate in Finland

Having suicidal thoughts is not uncommon. According to surveys, one in six people have at some point during their lifetime thought about committing suicide. Over the past year, two to three in 100 have had suicidal thoughts. However, for most people, these thoughts are short-lived.

When the suicide attempts which have not resulted in treatment are included in the calculations, the annual number of attempted suicides reaches one in 100. The risk factors for attempted suicide are similar to those for suicide. In attempted suicides, however, the role of impulsive behaviour associated with alcohol problems and personality disorders is greater.

In Finland, the suicide rate peaked in 1990, and since then has steadily declined. Although the decline in the suicide rate has been steep in recent years, suicide prevention has not lost any of its importance.

In Finland, the suicide rate peaked in 1990, and since then has steadily declined.

Suicide mortality in Finland from 1921 to 2021.

Underlying factors

Self-destructive behaviour develops as a result of slowly accumulating risk factors including, for example, mental disorders. This development is further accelerated by the deterioration of protective factors, including a supportive social network. The process leading to suicide nearly always involves the accumulation of problems in several areas of life.


The treatment of self-destructive persons includes treating depression or other mood disorders, impulsive behaviour where the person is indifferent to the consequences of their actions, loss of reality sense, anxiety, and substance abuse. Self-destructive individuals typically suffer from several simultaneous mental disorders, and often also from general medical conditions or symptoms.

For best results, a treatment plan must be prepared without delay, and the person's condition carefully monitored.