Suicide Rates among Immigrants to the US and in their Former Country "Rate/rank in the US" shows the 1959 suicide rate and rank among various nationalities of immigrants to the U.S. "Rate/rank in native country" shows the 1962 suicide rate (all per 100,000 per year) and rank in the home nations of these immigrants.

In the US In native country    



32.5 2 22.4 1  


17.5 9 7.2 8  


31.5 3 20.6 2  

Germany, West

25.7 4 17.6 4  


9.8 10 1.8 10  


18.2 8 5.4 9  


7.9 na    


23.7 6 7.9 7  


25.2 5 9.3 6  


34.2 1 18.5 3  

UK (England & Wales)

19.2 7 12.0 5  


30.2 na    




10.5 10.8    

[Data from: Sainsbury, P "Differences between Suicide Rates" Science v220, p1252, 1968; Dublin, 1963; WHO,World Health Statistics Annual 1965; in Lester, D Patterns of Suicide and Homicide in the World, 1996 p 15).]

The overall suicide rate: (a) is higher in each European immigrant nationality in the US than in their former country; (b) is usually higher among immigrants than the general (immigrant plus non-immigrant) US rate; (c) the nationalities that have higher (lower) immigrant-suicide rates also have higher (lower) national rates (in statistic-speak, they have a high rank-order correlation). Higher suicide rates among immigrants has also been reported in other countries. [Retterstol, N Suicide: A European Perspective, 1993, p64], but not among Chinese, Japanese, and white immigrants in Hawaii. [Kalish, RA "Suicide" Bulletin of Suicidology Dec 1968, pp37-43]

One plausible explanation for the relatively high suicide rate among immigrants is that trying to start over in an unfamiliar land may be severely stressful. On the other hand, this same pattern appears in immigrants from Canada and Great Britain, who might be expected to have the least difficulty in adjusting to the US. Another possibility is that many immigrants are self-selected for characteristics (say, rootlessness) that also predispose for suicide. These high rates tend to persist among immigrants for a generation after they have emigrated to other countries.