Trends in reported suicide rates were analysed for the ages 5-24 years in 21 selected European countries in 1970-74 and 1980-84. In children the precision of the rates was found to be low though there appeared to be a trend to increased suicide in boys. In adolescent and young adult males, however, there was a definite increase in suicide over the period studied, and this was much more marked than in females, in whom the rates had declined in eight countries. The Belgian situation was investigated in detail. Increases were most pronounced in 20-24 year-old males. Around 1981, about half of youth suicides were committed by firearms and medicaments, and these methods showed the largest increases in risk. The estimated under-reporting error diminished with increasing age and over the past ten years. It was larger in females, but did not bias the trends substantially. On the aggregated level, youth suicide was found most strongly associated with indicators of anomie and social isolation. The relevance of these findings in the search for determinants and for preventive strategies is discussed.
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