Why does Greenland have one of the world's highest suicide rates?


WikiTribune is working on a story Greenland’s high suicide rate hardly changed since 1980s. [story now published] According to a 2016 NPR story, many people in Greenland consider suicide “normal.” 

In 2011, Greenland had the world’s highest suicide rate, averaging 83 suicides per 100,000 people. Because statistics for suicides in Greenland are difficult to come by – Greenland is a constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark, so its statistics are sometimes added into Denmark’s – Greenland is often not included in reports on national suicide rates. As a result, the problem receives scarce attention.

The lack of recognized Greenlandic culture, as well as alcoholism and displacement of populations, are thought to contribute to the problem.

Questions this article will seek to answer:

  • What are the main causes of suicide in Greenland?
  • How large a part do culture, alcohol and climate play in the high suicide rate?
  • Greenland’s suicide rate wasn’t high until the 1980s. Why did it suddenly rise?
  • Why are suicide rates particularly high among the indigenous Inuit population?
  • What is currently being done to solve the problem?
  • What should be done?

Secured interviews

  • Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen, Adjunct Professor, University of Greenland 
  • Gert Mulvad, medical doctor involved in suicide prevention in Greenland

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Proposed interviews

  • Christina Viskum Lytken Larsen has produced a number of studies on the topic
  • PAARISA
  • Kiliii Yüyan, filmmaker and photographer who explores high suicide rates among indigenous populations in the Article Circle

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If you have been affected by the issues brought up please contact these numbers:

Greenland suicide prevention hotline
United States suicide prevention hotline
United Kingdom suicide prevention hotline
International suicide prevention hotlines

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