Murder and suicide across the globe

Indi Samarajiva
Aug 10 · 3 min read

Someone said that my country was especially suicidal, so I looked it up. Unfortunately, they were right. Sri Lanka is in the top 20 countries by suicide rate. This is an arbitrary cut-off, but so is death. In the map above I’ve just highlighted the top-20-ish countries for each type of violent death — suicide and murder.

It’s a depressing map.

If you look at the data closer it’s even sadder. When I put it on a map I flattened the data. Greenland has 58 suicides per 100,000 people and Kazakhstan only half that, but on the map they’re both just black. This hides the relative horror.

Let’s look at a scatter plot.

This gives us some more perspective. We can see that life in Greenland is very sad indeed. But there’s something strange on the murder side. Syria seems to be literally off the map. Let me stretch out the map so you can see this horror with full perspective.

As you can see, the deaths in Syria are three times anywhere else. 306 per 100,000 population. A beautiful country and people, laid terribly low. A readable graph cannot even capture the scale of their suffering.

I’ll return to the map.

One notable thing is that suicides seem to be in cold places and murders in warm.

The exceptions are suicidal Sri Lanka, and Surinam and Guyana, so wedged within violent Brazil that they can’t take it anymore. It also seems like the entire former Soviet bloc is depressed, which I understand, but also Japan and South Korea. Note that there may be issues with the Sri Lanka data, if it were updated Sri Lanka would be 22nd and no longer on this map.

On the murder front, America itself is statistically doing fine but they seem to have exported terror to Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen; all part of their forever war. America’s cruel alliance with Saudi Arabia is destroying life in that region, and it seems like they want to mess up Iran to connect the dots.

The next tier of misery is El Salvador, perhaps why those brave people are enduring so much to try flee north. May God and all angels be with them, especially their children. Central America generally seems to be a dangerous place to live, and these people should be allowed to move. I mean, everyone deserves freedom to move, but if you’re getting murdered I sincerely believe that you have a right to get out of the way.

South Africa is the one real outlier on the murder front. It’s an advanced and relatively developed country, but with disaster levels of violent death. Brazil as well.

What This Map Tells Me

Overall, what this map tells me is that maps are stupid places for humans to be trapped in. Especially for those being murdered. But also those driven to suicide.

It’s a cold world and a hot world but I can’t help thinking that if we were allowed to move freely, it could just be more comfortable.


Indi Samarajiva

Written by

Colombo liberal. Writer, father. Founder of YAMU and Kottu.

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