Geneva: India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides in the world in 2012, according to a WHO report published today which found that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds globally.
In the WHO South-East Asia Region, the estimated suicide rate is the highest as compared to other WHO regions.
Suicide rates show a peak among the young and the elderly, the report said.
Most suicides in the world occur in the South-East Asia Region (39 per cent of those in low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia alone) with India accounting for the highest estimated number of suicides overall in 2012.
According to the report, 258,075 people committed suicide in India in 2012, with 99,977 women and 158,098 men taking their own lives. India's suicide rate was 21.1 per 100,000 people, according to the report.
"This report, the first WHO publication of its kind, presents a comprehensive overview of suicide, suicide attempts and successful suicide prevention efforts worldwide. We know what works. Now is the time to act," said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.
The most suicide-prone countries were Guyana (44.2 per 100,000), followed by North and South Korea (38.5 and 28.9 respectively). Next came Sri Lanka (28.8), Lithuania (28.2), Suriname (27.8), Mozambique (27.4), Nepal and Tanzania (24.9 each), Burundi (23.1), India (21.1) and South Sudan (19.8).
More than 800,000 people die by suicide every year - around one person every 40 seconds, according to the report. Some 75 per cent of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Pesticide poisoning, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally. Suicide by intentional pesticide ingestion is of particular concern in rural agricultural areas in the South-East Asia Region, the report said.