Call for action to prevent suicide

31.10.19 | News
Selvmord i Norden skal mindskes
Martin Zachrisson
Suicide rates are worryingly high in the Nordic region. The countries should work together on preventative measures and share knowledge and best practices to help people in need, the Nordic Council Welfare Committee believes.

“We can’t just sit idly by and watch young people take their lives when they’ve barely started. The countries should share experiences and come up with preventative solutions to help suicidal young people and other vulnerable individuals,” says Bente Stein Mathisen, the chair of the Welfare Committee. The proposal was submitted by the Social Democratic Group on the Nordic Council.  

We can’t just sit idly by and watch young people take their lives when they’ve barely started.


Bente Stein Mathisen – Chair of the Nordic Council Welfare Committee

Every suicide has its own story

Every day, ten people commit suicide in the Nordic region. In Norway, six times as many people commit suicide as die in traffic. Every suicide has its own story but roughly speaking they can be grouped into unhappy young people, people with mental health issues, lonely old people, individuals who are grieving and addicts. The fact that the causes are so different makes prevention difficult. The Welfare Committee is ambitious, however, and is recommending that the Nordic Council of Ministers initiates formal collaboration on the issue and pursues a target of reducing the overall suicide rate by 25% and preventing all suicide attempts by people aged under 18.        

Unhappy young people in a happy region

The report Skyggen af Lykken (The Dark Side of Happiness) reveals the somewhat mysterious paradox that the Nordic region regularly tops global rankings for happiness, but suicide rates are high. Researchers suggest that the apparently illogical reason for this conundrum is that people compare themselves to each other. If everybody else seems happy and satisfied, it hits depressed people even harder. It is another parameter to add to an already complicated situation.

The Nordic Council is the official body for co-operation between the Nordic parliaments. Formed in 1952, it has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.