Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Suicide accounts for more than 3 in 4 intentional fire deaths: StatsCan

By CFF Staff   

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Oct. 11, 2022, Canada – Suicide made up more than three in four of intentional fire-related deaths between 2011 and 2020, shows new data from Statistics Canada. Of the over 200 fire-related deaths reported annually, one in six are classified as cases of intentional, meaning by suicide or homicide.

The findings are based on new insights released from the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database (CCMED).

From 2011 to 2020, coroners and medical examiners investigated, on average, 26 fire-related suicides each year. While these deaths accounted for more than three-quarters of intentional fire-related deaths, they accounted for less than one per cent of overall suicides in Canada.

Fifty-two per cent of fire-related suicides were a result of smoke inhalation, while 12 per cent were caused by smoke inhalation and burns, and 29 per cent were caused by burns alone. Other causes of death such as blunt force trauma or drug toxicity were a factor in four per cent of fire-related suicides. Three per cent were not specified. Accelerants were used in 42 per cent of fire-related suicides.

Most fire-related suicides occurred on residential property, accounting for 61 per cent.

Most of the fire-related suicides that took place in non-residential structures occurred in a parked vehicle on the property, accounting for 65 per cent of deaths. Twenty-nine per cent happened in public areas and six per cent happened indoors.

The report found that men were three times more likely than woman to die in a fire-related suicide. Middle-aged adults were overrepresented, with those aged 45 to 59 comprising 44 per cent of fire related suicides. This same group represents 32 per cent of overall suicides in Canada.

At the time of this report, 2,190 fire-related deaths were documented. Of these, 260 were classified as suicides. In a news release, Statistics Canada stated that the number recorded recent years is lower than expected as only closed cases are published.

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