The following page discusses suicide and self-harm. Help is available 24/7 if you need it:

Nearly 25,000 Canadians either died by suicide or stayed in hospital after intentionally harming themselves in 2018–2019, our analysis shows. This is the equivalent of almost 70 self-harm events every day.

Regardless of suicidal intent, acts of self-harm signal severe distress. Looking at the number of deaths and hospitalizations for self-harm, and understanding who is more likely to self-harm, can help inform targeted prevention efforts and drive improvements in access to community mental health services. — Tracy Johnson, Director, Health System Analysis and Emerging Issues

In 2018, 25,000 Canadians were hospitalized or died by intentionally harming themselves.

Facts and figures about self-harm

High rates of hospital stays and deaths from intentional self-harm may signal a lack of appropriate mental health care or addictions services, treatments and community supports.

Many factors may influence the rate of hospital stays for and deaths from self-harm, including

  • Timely access to services in the community
  • Stigma and cultural perceptions
  • Variation in care practices between provinces and territories

Almost 30% of those hospitalized for self-harm are young women. Almost 30% of those who die by suicide are middle-aged men.

Hospitalization rates for self-harm were higher for females than males across most age groups, with the highest rates seen in young women. Rates were 3 times higher for girls and women age 10 to 24 than for males in the same age group.

The picture looks different, however, when looking at deaths from self-harm. Suicide rates were higher for males, affecting men age 45 to 64 the most.

About 1 in 9 of those hospitalized for self-harm have 2 or more hospital stays for self-harm in a year.

The rates of hospital stays were twice as high for Canadians living in the lowest-income neighbourhoods as for those living in the highest-income neighbourhoods.

Individuals living in rural or remote areas were more likely to have a hospital stay for self-harm compared with those in urban areas, partly because there may be fewer community services in rural areas.

COVID-19 and mental health and addictions

This data pre-dates COVID-19, and the mental health impact of the pandemic is not yet fully known. Our latest data represents a baseline from which progress can be measured, including Canadians’ access to timely mental health and additions services.