About Out with it

Geðhjálp and Hjálparsími Rauða krossins 1717 (the Red cross crisis line 1717) are jointly responsible for the prevention program Out with it. The aim of the project is to promote better mental health by encouraging people, especially young people, to talk about their feelings and to seek professional help when needed. The issue is urgent, considering that about 500-600 persons seek help at their GP´s or at hospitals after self-harming due to distress every year. Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst young men in Iceland.

Geðhjálp and Hjálparsíminn want to extend their gratitude to our sponsors, without which this webpage would not exist!


Geðhjálp and Hjálparsíminn also want to thank the Out with it running group, the city of Reykjavík, the Directorate of Health, Landsbankinn, TVR agent of Samsung in Iceland, Corporate Social Responsibility fund Valitor, Tæknivörur ehf., Egils, 365, LS Retail, Hagaskóli, University of Reykjavík, Framhaldsskólinn í Mosfellsbæ and other companies, institutions and individuals for financial support to this project. Without their support, this project would never exist.

Geðhjálp and Hjálparsíminn want to extend their gratitude to the following companies and persons for exceptional co-operation.

Tjarnargatan efh. For the design and development of the video content of the website. www.tjarnargatan.is

Kosmos og Kaos ehf. For the design and development of this website. www.kosmosogkaos.is

Tómasi Kristjánsson, psychologist, for the work on the text content of the website. www.salfraedingarnir.is

Special thanks for advice, encouragement and support:
Gunnar Árnason, teacher.
Óttar Guðmundsson, psychiatrist.
Salbjörg Bjarnadóttir and Héðinn Svarfdal Björnsson, Directorate of Health.
Unnur Heba Steingrímsdóttir og Guðrún Bryndís Guðmundsdóttir, The child and adolescent psychiatric department of the National university hospital of Iceland (BUGL).
Wilhelm Norðfjörð, psychologist.
On behalf of Out with it,
Anna Gunnhildur Ólafsdóttir (Geðhjálp) og Hjálmar Karlsson (Hjálparsími Rauða krossins)


Suicides in Iceland 1996-2014


Red bars are females and the blue bars male

Suicides in Iceland 2014 by age


Red bars are females and the blue bars male

Number of hospitalizations due to self-harm in Iceland


Red bars are females and the blue bars male
*Numbers from 2010 are not shown as there were changes in the registration systems that year, possibly creating a bias in the numbers as staff was learning and getting used to the new system and new definitions and categories.

Number of hospitalizations due to self-harm in Iceland in 2013 by age


Red bars are females and the blue bars male

It is interesting to see the gender difference amongst teenagers. Overwhelming number of teen hospitalizations due to self-harm are girls. The gender difference decreases after the teenage years but females outnumber males throughout.

The Red Cross crisis line (Hjálparsíminn 1717) serves a very important role and its staff and volunteers have done an incredible job as can be seen in the following statistics:

Phone-calls and webchats by years
2014 – 14.003
2015 – 15.569

Two things that can be seen by this statistic is, first, the large volume of calls and chats they handle each year, in 2015, they handled on average 43 calls and webchats each day. Second, that between the years 2014 and 1015 there was an 11% increase in calls. As we will see, the need is even stronger than these numbers reflect, so we can expect a continued increase in calls and chats.

Suicide calls and webchats (own and others):
2014: 405
2015: 495

When we look at calls and chats related to suicides we see a 22% increase from 2014 to 2015. There are two factors that could be contributing to this increase. One, the need could be growing, and two, that people are increasingly open to discuss suicides and the awareness of the crisis line has increased.

Self-harm – phone-calls and webchats
1. April 2015 – 8. July 2015 = 45
1. April 2016 – 8. July 2016 = 52

Here we can see the number of calls and webchats regarding self-harm. These are numbers from short periods each year because of changes in how calls were categorized. We can still see an increase of 15.5% between the two periods. But interestingly, even if we extrapolate the numbers to annual numbers, they are quite low, or less than half of the suicide related calls and chats. This could be because there is still a lot of secrecy and shame around self-harm. This just underlines the need to open up the discussion and bring this topic to the surface.

Calls to the crisis line by psychological issues in 2015

  1. Anxiety/phobias 3404
  2. Disorder (unspecified) 3127
  3. Depression 1837
  4. Self-image 452
  5. Eating disorder 354
  6. Bullying/teasing 319
  7. Loneliness/boredom 239
  8. Grief/loss 239
  9. Compulsions 207
  10. Suicide (others) 178
  11. Self-harm (Mar-Dec) 140
  12. Suicide (own) 89

It is worth considering that this categorization is based on information from the caller, some calls do not specify anything while others might be counted in more than one category.


Facts about suicide


  • 35-50 persons die annually by suicide in Iceland.
  • Annually, 6 young men (18-25) die by suicide.
  • One young woman (18-25) dies by suicide, every other year.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for young men.


  • Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year.  (WHO)
  • There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds. (WHO)
  • Suicide is the 3rdleading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-44 years. (WHO)
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. (WHO)


  • Suicide is the 10thleading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
  • The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000.  Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 12.3 minutes. (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • 80% -90% of adolescents that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS)
  • An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts among the elderly. (CDC)

Facts about self-harm

  • Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-harm
  • 90 percent of people who engage in self-harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years
  • Those that self-harm are over nine times more likely to have attempted a suicide than those that don´t
  • Nearly 50 percent of those who engage in self-harm activities have been sexually abused
  • Females comprise 60 percent of those who engage in self-harming behavior (Australia)
  • About 50 percent of those who engage in self-harming begin around age of 14 and carry on into their 20ies
  • Many of those who self-harm report learning how to do so from friends or pro self-injury websites
  • Approximately two million cases are reported annually in the U.S


In Icelandic

http://www.landlaeknir.is/servlet/file/store93/item2752/2761.pdf – Að koma í veg fyrir sjálfsvíg og sjálfsvígstilraunir meðal unglinga
http://www.landlaeknir.is/servlet/file/store93/item2066/673.pdf – Sjálfsvíg og sjálfsvígstilraunir meðal íslenskra ungmenna: Sjálfsvígstilraunir meðal íslenskra framhaldsskólanema árin 1992 og 2000 og alþjóðlegur samanburður á sjálfsvígstíðni meðal 15-24 ára ungmenna 1951-2000
http://www.persona.is/index.php?action=articles&method=display&aid=81&pid=28 – sjálfvíg ungs fólks

In English
http://www.yourlifecounts.org/sites/default/files/coping-with-suicidal-thoughts_2.pdf – Coping with suicidal thoughts

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