Indicator 3.4.2 - E-Handbook on SDG Indicators - UN Statistics Wiki
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Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 3.4.2: Suicide Mortality Rate

Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Definition and Rationale


This indicator is defined as the number of suicide deaths in a given year divided by the population, expressed per 100,000 persons. 


Suicide is the act of causing one’s own death. Codes X-60-84 and Y87.0 of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) are considered as suicide deaths for this indicator. 

Rationale and Interpretation:

Mental disorders occur in all regions and cultures of the world. The most prevalent of these disorders are depression and anxiety, which are estimated to affect nearly 1 in 10 people. At its worst, depression and other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can lead to suicide.  In 2016, there were close to 800,000 estimated suicide deaths worldwide. 

Data Sources and Collection Method

The preferred data source is death registration systems with complete coverage and medical certification of cause of death. Where such death registration systems do not exist, data can be collected through household surveys with verbal autopsy, sample registration or sentinel registration systems. In some cases, special studies and surveillance systems can also provide usable data. 

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

Suicide mortality rate can be calculated using the formula below: 

Comments and limitations:

Data on deaths are available from countries from death registration data or sample registration systems that record information on cause of death, but less than one half of WHO Member States have well-functioning death-registration systems that record causes of death. Even where such systems exist, recording of suicide may be prevented by:

  • Poor linkages with coronial and police systems. In the absence of such linkages, the proportion of suicides which are classified as injuries of undetermined intent, unintentional injury or unknown cause may be very high, and the suicide rate is underestimated.
  • Stigma. Due to stigma, suicides may be recorded as unintentional injury deaths, underestimating the suicide rate.
  • Legal or financial considerations.  For example, life insurance policies may preclude payment when deaths are due to suicide, leading to underrecording of suicide deaths. In some countries suicide is considered a criminal act. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

This indicator can be disaggregated by sex, age subnational geographic region and method of suicide.


Official SDG Metadata URL  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL 

Other references
ICD-10: Version 2016:

WHO. Global Health Observatory: Indicator Metadata Registry. Geneva. Internet Site:

WHO (2010). Improving the quality and use of birth, death and cause-of-death information: guidance for a standards-based review of country practices. Available at:

WHO (2018). WHO methods and data sources for country-level causes of death 2000-2016. Geneva. Available at:

World Health Assembly Resolution WHA66.8 (2013). Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020, including Appendix 1: Indicators for Measuring Progress Towards Defined Targets of the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020. Geneva. Available at: 

Country examples

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from World Health Organization (WHO).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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