Taiwan has experienced a marked increase in the suicide rate in the last decade. However, the socioeconomic burden and impact to the community has not been adequately assessed.
This study aimed to estimate the social and economic burden of premature mortality from suicide in Taiwan in 1997–2007.
The suicide rate, potential years of life lost (PYLL), and present value of lifetime earnings (PVLE) by sex and age groups in 1997–2007 were calculated. The contribution of each suicide method to PYLL for each age group was also assessed.
Using the PYLL calculations, suicide had become the third leading cause of death in Taiwan in 2007, compared to its ninth position in terms of absolute numbers. Furthermore, the PYLL was associated with an estimated NTD (New Taiwan Dollars) 32.5 billion of lost earnings in 2007. The increase in PYLL and PVLE from suicide was highest in middle-aged men (aged 25–59 years). Charcoal burning suicide accounted for most of the increase in PYLL in the middle-aged group in the past decade.
The loss of life in middle-aged males contributes disproportionately to the social and economic burden of suicide in Taiwan. Suicide intervention effort should target this high-risk population.