Hungary's suicide rate has been high ever since the early ninteenth century, and since 1968 the highest in the world. In the second half of the 1940s the suicide rate was 23.7 per 100000 population on the five-year average. This was a quite low figure in this century.
In the early 1950s, when Hungary was under a harsh Stalinist dictatorship, the suicide rate dropped to 21.5, which was the lowest five-year average in the country in this century. In the second half of the 1950s, the rate grew to 23 per 100 000 and in the first half of the 1960s to over 27. These latter years are known in Hungary as the years of consolidation, rising living standards and an easing of domestic tensions. Notwithstanding this, in 1967 the suicide rate was above 30 per 100 000 and by 1968 Hungary topped the world statistics with a rate of 33.7. Within a century, Hungary moved from fifteenth to first place in the world's suicide rate statistics. And it seems that rather than being due to certain methodological peculiarities, this eminence corresponds to the facts ( Sainsbury and Barraclough, 1968).
The upward trend did not stop in 1968. In the 1980s, the rate fluctuated between 44.4 and 45.9. Halbwachs had already suggested in 1930 that there must be an end somewhere to the growth in suicide rate, and it appears that this finally came about in Hungary after 1980. Between 1968 and 1980 in only two years, 1973 and 1975, were there fewer suicides (and in 1973 the drop was minimal, with only seven suicides less); since 1980 there have been three years showing a decline, namely, 1982, 1984, and 1985. The 1986 rate also failed to reach the 1983 record figure of 45.9. In other words, the signs indicate that in the first half of the 1980s